One year after the presentation of the European Network of Family-Friendly Municipalities, which now is opened to all municipalities
On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, the European Network of Family-Friendly Municipalities held its first Convention in Brussels, at the headquarters of the Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of Regions (CoR) of the European Union. Seventy representatives from municipalities and civil society organizations participated. The act was chaired by Regina Maroncelli and moderated by Raul Sanchez, who are president and general secretary respectively of the European Confederation of Large Families (ELFAC), which is the entity that has promoted this European Network.
Kinga Joó, member of EESC, and Adam Karacsony from CoR gave the welcome to the participants on behalf of their institutions.
The project of the European Network of Family-Friendly Municipalities was presented in September 2018 in Brussels, and since then it has been working with twenty pilot municipalities in seven European countries in order to define a common standard and the definition and program of activities of the Network.
Recognition diplomas were awarded to the pilot municipalities of Krákow, Szczecin and Grodzisk Macowieski (Poland), Todi and Alghero (Italy), Zagreb (Croatia), Nagykovacsi (Hungary). In addition, other municipalities were present and expressed their intention to join the network. They were Trzebnica (Poland), District V of Budapest and Oroshaza from Hungary, and Tallinn (Estonia). The Portuguese Observatory of Family Responsible Municipalities also attended, which signed an agreement with the European Network to accredit the hundred municipalities that have already been certified in Portugal. An equal agreement has been signed with the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), which has almost 90% of its municipalities certified as Family-Friendly.
Attila Beneda, secretary of state for the family of the Government of Hungary, explained the positive results of the support policies for the families they have been doing in that country for eight years, and that has led them to the higher expenditure of percentage of GDP in family and childhood, with the aim of making Hungary a family-friendly country. The Spanish Jorge Buxadé, from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and the Italian Marzo Zullo, from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group also intervened.
The Convention had an academic part in which the professor at the Corvinus University of Budapest Petra Aczél spoke about the meaning of Family-Friendliness. Later Luciano Malfer, general director of the Agency for the Family of the Province of Trento, introduced the participants in the “New public family managament”.
Vincenzo Bassi, president of the European Federation of Catholic Family Association (FAFCE) and Heba Al Fara, from Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) there were some of the voices from civil society, asking for the need to create a family-friendly environment. There were also reprentatives from large families associations of all Europe.
In the afternoon there were explanations of the good practices of the municipalities present. At the end, a Final Declaration was approved in which it was agreed:
- call for greater attention towards investing in families with children, especially for large families, through incentives to municipalities which do so with special allowances,
- call for better measures for a cleaner, safer and more livable environment,
- call for a special attention to national and European Networks in order to prioritize children and families as fundamental stakeholders of a municipality,
- encourage active participation of young people in the life of the municipality,
- look for ways of supporting families with no additional cost,
- create forums for families where they can express their wishes in matters of the community.