The demographic winter into which Europe entered in 2015 has dramatically intensified with the coronavirus health crisis, especially in the continent’s southern countries, where the preexisting economic hardship was already discouraging many couples from having children.
This very concerning situation spurred the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) — a Brussels-based umbrella organization of Catholic family associations — to organize a series of webinars, moderated by the Register, with high-level European policy-makers to concretely discuss the future of families in the aftermath of the epidemic.
Indeed, while the European Union officially adopted a 1.8 trillion-euro Recovery Plan on Dec. 17, to address the enormous social and economic damage caused by COVID-19, families were never directly mentioned in the plan’s various packages.
No Economic Health Without Family
According to the FAFCE’s analysis of the Recovery Plan for Europe, families will benefit from the plan’s specific categories like education, skills and employment, notably through the InvestEU program, and more indirectly through NextGeneration, a 750 billion-eurotemporary instrument which takesthe form of grants and loans for EU Member-States in order to boost their recovery.
Nevertheless, the place granted to the institution of family is, in the foundation’s view, far from being sufficient.“We are not asking for privileges; we are asking for justice,” Vincenzo Bassi, the president of FAFCE, said during a Dec. 10 webinar in the presence of Hungarian Minister for Families Katalin Novák. “It is absolutely necessary to include family and demographic policies in the recovery plan, as without a demographic change — meaning more children — we will collapse in greater public debt, inflation and deficit.”
From the beginning of the crisis, Bassi has consistently asserted that the sustainability of the Old Continent, as well as all western countries, depends on families. He emphatically reiterated this conviction in his Jan. 12 conversation with Italian Minister for Family and Equal Opportunities Elena Bonetti, recalling how devastating the epidemic has been for those who were cut off from their family or did not have one.
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