EU Care Strategy: Turn the nice words into national action!

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Based on input from our members, we propose recommendations to reform the long-term care systems and meet the ambition of the European Care Strategy in 10 countries.

More than one year ago, EU Member States proclaimed their ambition for improving ‘access to affordable, quality long-term care’, the keystone of the European Care Strategy. They also committed to writing their intentions for reforming the ‘national implementation measures’ proposed by the European Commission by June 2024. AGE has surveyed its members to determine which parts of the long-term care ecosystem should be reformed in priority in 9 Member States and Norway.

Current systems are clearly not sustainable

As longevity is increasing, the needs for long-term care and support are likely to increase as well in the future. Already, long-term care systems have shown their shortcomingsand unpreparedness during the pandemic, as the majority of COVID-19 fatalities happened within long-term care settings. A vast majority of care work is performed unpaid by informal carers.

We see a big potential in the implementation of the Council recommendation that Member States have signed up to, as we advocate for a shift in long-term care towards rights-based, person-centred systems that gives persons the power to choose how they want to live and be cared for.

What we recommend

The position paper that we developed with our members is meant to motivate Member States to live up to the ambition proclaimed in their Recommendation and bring the attention to where it is needed. In summary, we put forward the following calls for action:

  • Social and health ambitions should be part of the next Council Strategic Agenda for 2024-2029.
  • It is time for a European Care Platform as part of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.
  • Member States must show political will for establishing rights-based long-term care systems.
  • Member States must pursue dialogue with civil society representing persons in need of care, persons with disabilities and their families.
  • Workforce shortages seem the most common barrier to the success of the Council recommendation.
  • Member States must develop sustainable funding mechanisms for long-term care services.
  • To achieve autonomy and independence, all kinds of health and long-term care policies need to be developed to ensure an available spectrum of care that suits all needs: health promotion, prevention, curative generalist and specialist care, home and community-based care, support to informal carers, palliative and end-of-life care, housing adaptation and accessibility of environments, mental and physical health care.
  • Long-term care must meet the reality of free movement within the EU.

The position is looking at the national situations in Belgium, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland, and has been shared with the European Commission, national coordinators for long-term care and other important institutions.



Philippe Seidel Leroy

Policy Manager on Social Protection and European Parliament

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