European Union childcare policies under debate at the IESF international seminar

30/10/20
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Numerous family policy experts analysed the legislative impact and evaluated the implementation of Europe's childcare policies in Catalonia.

European Union childcare policies under debate at the IESF international seminar
On Friday 23 October, the international seminar titled “Social policies on children and the family.  Regulatory impact assessment: from Europe to Catalonia” was held online, organised by the Institute of Advanced Family Studies and the Childcare and Family Policies Chair. The initiative was also supported by the Joaquim Molins Figueras Foundation and the research project “Evaluación del proceso normativo en la Unión Europea y en España ante los nuevos retos sociales del Estado de Derecho” (DER2016-76325-R, ‘Regulatory impact assessment in the European Union and Spain in view of new social challenges imposed by Law’) and financed by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.
 
The aim of this seminar was to examine findings regarding the extent to which the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) has been enforced and applied, as well as the European Union’s framework of childcare policies. Numerous experts in family policy put forward their arguments on this highly topical issue against this backdrop. 
 
The event was opened and introduced by Monserrat Gas, director of the IESF, who mentioned the joint research project (“Evaluación del proceso normativo en la Unión Europea y en España ante los nuevos retos sociales del Estado de Derecho”) carried out between the University of Padua, the UIC Barcelona Institute of Advanced Family Studies (through the Childcare Family Policies Chair) and the Department of Public Law at the University of Girona, financed by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. 
 
Dr Mª Jesús Larios, assistant to the Ombudsperson of Catalonia, opened the round of presentations by raising the issue of child poverty and the migration of unaccompanied minors.  She argued that “these two unresolved problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic” and that they “need to be prioritised by public policy makers”, without losing sight of the fact that a child’s welfare is the primary responsibility of their parents. However, she added that “it’s time the government promoted the right policies”.
 
Following on from this thread, Dr Aida Kisunaite, researcher from the Department of Political Science, Law and International Studies at the University of Padua, stated that “no public policy is neutral”. This is why “we need to promote responsible thinking among legislators to consider the situation of minors across the board and in measures taken at all levels”. However, Kisunaite also pointed out that today, there are less demanding theoretical frameworks that go beyond core issues such as poverty or the social exclusion of children and adolescents. 
 
Marc Grau, researcher for the Childcare and Family Policies Chair at UIC Barcelona spoke at length about childcare policies, not only at a European level, but also those in Spain and Catalonia, and compared the different contexts. The researcher stated that “sometimes, a short-term vision and the fragmentation of social policy measures for children overshadows their effective implementation”. 
 
On the other hand, Dr Dolors Canals, tenured professor of administrative law at the UdG, stressed how regulatory impact assessment is as an effective tool for social policies. She also highlighted the importance of improving regulatory impact assessments “as they are still a pending matter; the question of minors is not an exclusively cross-disciplinary issue”. 
 
The final speaker was Paula Ortí, head of the area for Regulatory Improvements for the Government of Catalonia. In her presentation “Social regulatory impact in Catalonia: childhood and youth”, she showed that there has been a clear focus on economic impact assessment since 2008. Even so, as Ortí pointed out, "it was not until 2011 that this impact assessment adopted a more comprehensive vision that included economic, social and environmental aspects".  
 
The international seminar ended with a questions and answers session, in which attendees had the chance to pose questions and doubts to the speakers at the event.