Месечни архиви: декември 2016

12 Graphs: Seven eminent scientists

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Recent populist waves on both sides of the Atlantic have shown that that expert advice is more than ever distrusted and even flatly rejected. Will this trend continue next year? Or will people go back to considering evidence more thoroughly?

Like it or not, politicians make decisions on policies that affect us all. Surely it is better that they do this in full knowledge of the facts? EU policy-makers develop their decisions based on societal values, political considerations, and scientific knowledge. On this last aspect the Commission can request and receive  advice from a High-level Group (HLG) of seven eminent scientists who report to the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. The seven scientists are likewise provided with the best scientific evidence available through the Scientific Advice Mechanism secretariat within the Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) for Research and Innovation, and through an EU-level consortium of scientific academies.

See our best visuals from 2016

At the level of the European Parliament, science and technology options assessment is provided by the STOA panel, which helps Members to prepare for long-term impacts of science and technology on European society. STOA organises direct cooperation between scientists and Members in areas as diverse as robotics, space exploration and neuroscience.

With solutions to find to pressing and highly complex issues such as climate change and challenges to global food supplies, science-based evidence will continue to be a vital input to policy decisions in 2017.

The Scientific Advice Mechanism

The Scientific Advice Mechanism

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/31/12-graphs-seven-eminent-scientists/

12 graphs: Six most important issues for EU citizens

Written by Clare Ferguson,

The 2016 Bratislava declaration, setting out the key priorities for the EU with the UK on its way out, and how to achieve them, naturally focuses on topics which relate to the six most important issues for citizens: the economic situation, unemployment, immigration, terrorism, the state of Member States’ finances and crime.

In line with citizens’ concerns, the EU has acted on border management and migration policy throughout 2016, and this topic remains high on the agenda for 2017, as does combating terrorism, as the likelihood of violent attacks on EU citizens remains very high. EU defence cooperation plans to increase capability to deliver more security for EU citizens in 2017.

Creating a promising economic future for all, especially Europe’s youth, has been a main focus for policy-makers in 2016, with increased funding under the European Fund for Strategic Investments, increased focus on completing the single market, and a proposal to create a Solidarity Corps to alleviate youth unemployment, among other initiatives.

With the value of illicit markets estimated at around €110 billion, citizens are right to be concerned by the considerable social and political costs of organised crime and corruption. Money laundering and wildlife crime are not only damaging to society and the planet, but are also used to finance terrorist activities. The cost of organised crime, were the EU not to intervene, is hard to estimate, but likely to be considerable.

The European Central Bank has pursued its unconventional monetary policy in 2016. Improving Member States’ finances through the creation of extra fiscal space through the Asset Purchase Programme enabled EU countries to save €50 billion in debt interest payments during the year.

In 2017, plans to further tackle EU citizens’ top priorities will have to take into account the vote by the United Kingdom to leave the EU, and the subsequent consequences for the EU budget.

Most important issues for EU citizens

Most important issues for EU citizens

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/30/12-graphs-six-most-important-issues-for-eu-citizens/

Priority dossiers under the Maltese EU Council Presidency

Written by Lucienne Attard (The Directorate-General for the Presidency),

Priority dossiers under the Maltese EU Council Presidency

© 2016 EU2017.MT

Malta will hold the EU Council Presidency from January to July 2017. Its Presidency will bring to an end the Trio Presidency composed of the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta. This is the first time Malta holds the rotating presidency. Malta is currently led by a Socialist government, with Joseph Muscat as its Prime Minister. Prime Minister Muscat was a Member of the European Parliament between July 2004 and January 2007. He has been Prime Minister since 2013. The next general elections are due in 2018.

Malta is a republic with a unicameral parliamentary system. Parliament is composed of representatives of two main political parties – the Nationalist party, which is a Christian-Democratic party and the Labour party, a Social-Democratic party.

Political priorities of the Maltese presidency

Six over-arching priorities have been identified by the Maltese government, as follows:

  • Migration
  • Single market
  • Security
  • Social inclusion
  • Europe’s Neighbourhood
  • Maritime sector

The Maltese Presidency is also cognisant of the impact a potential triggering of Article 50 by the British government will have on the future of the EU, and is preparing for a potential start of negotiations on a British exit from the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May has announced the notification under Article 50 by the UK government can be expected by March 2017.

This note looks at the Maltese Presidency priorities in Part A, together with the most important dossiers which the European Parliament will need to address in the coming six months, in Part B.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Priority dossiers under the Maltese EU Council Presidency‘ in PDF.

The Directorate-General for the Presidency (DG Presidency) plays a key role throughout each parliamentary procedure, from its launch until its conclusion through the adoption of an EP resolution or legislative act, in particular in ensuring the smooth running of the plenary sessions. The staff of the DG play a key coordination role across the different services of the Parliament, and support Members in a wide range of activities. The Interinstitutional Relations Unit within DG Presidency, amongst other tasks, prepares a broad range documents concerned with strategic programming, such as on activities of the Commission and the Council.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/30/priority-dossiers-under-the-maltese-eu-council-presidency/

12 Graphs: Five key dimensions of social innovation

Written by Clare Ferguson,

The events of 2016 have made it clear that citizens expect policy-makers to come up with some new ideas to meet their needs and contribute to creating a more inclusive and cohesive society through promoting new processes and relationships, innovative solutions, and thus transformation. The EU aims to address this need for innovation to improve society across sectors such as the single market, employment and social affairs, health, education, energy, environment, and research under the notion of ‘social innovation ’.

Although the definition of ‘social innovation’ is somewhat contested, policy-makers need to agree on the definitions of the issues at stake, to ensure that they are all ‘on the same page’, and policy research at EU level underpins this aim. Social innovation produces new practices, relations, and products, regardless of the policy area in which it is applied – welfare, or urban development for example – often based on active citizen participation and the subsequent increased ‘buy in’, based on five key dimensions:

  • conceptual analysis of social practice;
  • centring policy proposals on social demands, societal challenges and systemic changes where possible;
  • analysis of available resources and capabilities and the constraints and conflicts which might require action to empower or build capacity;
  • embedding good governance, networking and actors in social policies aiming at change and development;
  • establishing process dynamics.

See our best visuals from 2016

In 2017, EU policies will continue to promote and fund social innovation in several sectors, such as the single market, employment and social affairs, health, education, energy, environment, and research. Several EU programmes finance social innovation in these sectors. For example, under the Employment and Social Innovation funding umbrella, one programme in particular, Progress, seeks to obtain solid analytical data on which to base EU social policies. Another, Eures, focuses on employment and encourages professional mobility, while the Microfinance Facility helps social enterprises, providing start-up finance for vulnerable groups to set up their own companies.

Developing policies and programmes that strengthen the social dimension of the European Union is one of the initiatives which the European Parliament, Council and Commission recently pledged to ‘fast track’ in 2017, giving proposals for practical policies to boost youth employment and social security coordination priority treatment in the legislative process.

Key dimensions of social innovation

Key dimensions of social innovation

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/29/12-graphs-five-key-dimensions-of-social-innovation/

12 Graphs: Four thematic objectives – EU Regional Development Fund

Written by Clare Ferguson,

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the largest of five European Structural and Investment Funds, is intended to support economic, social and territorial cohesion policy. The Fund addresses the imbalances between regions within the EU, through investing in development and structural support for regions which lag behind or need to replace declining industries. Some 95 % of the funding is spent on investment to boost growth and jobs. More specifically, it is spread across four main thematic objectives: network infrastructure in transport and energy; low-carbon economy; small and medium-sized enterprise competitiveness; and research and innovation. The regional development funding allocation for each EU Member State is based on complex rules and many restrictions. Poland receives the most funding, with twice the allocation of the next Member State, Italy. However, Estonia and Slovakia receive the highest ERDF support per capita.

See our best visuals from 2016

The four thematic objectives are split further into investment priorities, aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy, and the rules on funding specify that a minimum thematic concentration is respected. As a result, more than half of the resources co-finance investment in research and innovation, SME competitiveness and the low-carbon economy. In this way, the ERDF’s priorities have shifted in recent years from ‘hard’ infrastructure, such as transport links, to investment in innovation, the digital agenda, R&D, ICT, the low-carbon economy and helping EU SMEs to become more competitive. Through various programmes, funding is provided for, among other things, giving citizens the opportunity to learn new skills, and can be used by Member States to support refugees and provide for the integration of migrants in urban areas. It contributes to funding for climate-friendly forest management, to help remote communities in the Arctic, and to revitalise port areas.

While the funding is intended to help tackle the rising inequalities that contribute to citizen’s dissatisfaction in Europe, the EU institutions can be expected to continue the debate in 2017 on how best to ensure the European Union works for all its citizens.

The ERDF allocation per Member State and per capita (2014-2020)

The ERDF allocation per Member State and per capita (2014-2020)

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/28/12-graphs-four-thematic-objectives-eu-regional-development-fund/

12 Graphs: Three decades later – the state of nuclear power

Written by Clare Ferguson,

Thirty years ago, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster released radioactive material over much of Europe. Following the accident, some 600 000 people took part in the containment operations and around 350 000 people were displaced.

Accidents like Chernobyl, and the more recent disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, have resulted in an increasingly nuclear risk-averse public. Many countries are phasing out nuclear power production altogether. In the EU, production fell 13 % from 2004 to 2014, and will fall further as countries like Germany decommission plants without replacing them. Conversely, as a share of energy production worldwide, however, the rising number of nuclear power stations in China may well boost global nuclear output by some 80 % by 2040.

Another fear is the misuse of nuclear material by terrorist groups. One way in which the EU tries to contain proliferation of nuclear material is through export controls of what are known as ‘dual-use items’ ­ exports which may have a legitimate end-use, but which may be converted to deadly weapons, for instance to manufacture nuclear weapons or explosive devices. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) runs an incident and trafficking database, to which it adds over 150 reports of trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials annually.

See our best visuals from 2016

Leading academics point to the political fallout from the Chernobyl disaster and its legacy on society and on nuclear safety in post-Soviet Russia and Belarus, where a new nuclear power plant is under construction. Although Chernobyl fallout contaminated almost one quarter of Belarussian territory, domestic opposition to the new plant at Ostrovets is unlikely, due partly to the country’s dependence on cheap energy from Russia, as well as to the authoritarian regime. The plant’s location, upriver and only 50 km from the Lithuanian border, however, raises considerable security concerns for Lithuanians, particularly regarding the safety of their drinking water. The EU is also dependent on energy supplies from Russia, including nuclear fuel, and this aspect of EU-Russia relations is pushing the EU to seek greater energy security and independence from what the European Parliament has termed an ‘unreliable partner’.

How radioactive material contaminated the environment

How radioactive material contaminated the environment

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/27/12-graphs-three-decades-later-the-state-of-nuclear-power/

12 Graphs: Two strategic partners – EU and NATO defence cooperation

Written by Clare Ferguson,

We will remember 2016 as a tumultuous year worldwide, a 12-month period of vicious conflicts and political upheaval that will have long-lasting consequences is coming to an end. The resulting insecurity and uncertainty as to the foreign policy intentions of major world powers means that the EU strategic partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is more important than ever. However, the foreign policy intentions of two NATO members, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, are now somewhat unclear – due to the UK vote to leave the EU, and the election of Donald Trump as US President.

While the consequences of these changes is unlikely to become obvious any time soon, the need for a strong response to security challenges is on the table right now. The EU-NATO Warsaw Joint Declaration which followed the July 2016 NATO Summit, established a revised framework for cooperation to tackle the challenges of strained relations with Russia over eastern Ukraine and Crimea; growing authoritarianism in Turkey, and the war in Syria; the rise in terrorism both within Europe and globally; increased illegal migration flows; and rising populist and extremist political movements. The European Commission/European External Action Service and NATO’s Secretary-General made a number of proposals to facilitate cooperation, including improving communications and information-sharing; raising resilience in the face of attack; improving defence research and development, and spending; to boost capability and capacity.

Relations within NATO are rather complex however. Since the accession of Cyprus to the EU, EU-NATO cooperation is on an informal basis only, due to the conflict between that country and NATO’s second-largest provider of military forces, Turkey. Notwithstanding that, NATO and the EU already cooperate informally on operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and most recently in the Mediterranean Sea.

See our best visuals from 2016

Like the EU itself, NATO’s first principles are to promote democratic values of peace, freedom and collective defence. The organisation works to prevent conflict through political cooperation on defence and security, and prioritises peaceful dispute resolution before deploying its military capacity. While debate about a ‘European army’ is little advanced, the intention of both the EU and NATO is to enable national military forces to strengthen peace and security in Europe.

Many of the EU’s most pressing issues for next year also have consequences for NATO, such as the UK’s decision to leave the EU, external security, continued migration pressure, and the situation in Ukraine. The next NATO Summit is therefore likely to be held earlier than usual in 2017, and will be hosted in Brussels by Belgium.

NATO presence and exercises within and outside Europe

NATO presence and exercises within and outside Europe

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/26/12-graphs-two-strategic-partners-eu-and-nato-defence-cooperation/

12 Graphs: One global strategy

Written by Clare Ferguson,

This year has seen Europe struggle to come to terms with its place in today’s contested world, and the EU has found it hard to adapt the positions of its current 28 Member States to respond flexibly and speedily to the challenges of the new security environment. Will the shadow cast by conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood, instability in other parts of the world, and terrorist violence at home and abroad dim the light of the EU’s guiding liberal cosmopolitanism?

Intractable and violent conflicts, jihadi terrorism, and poverty have led to the largest displacement of people since World War II, at the same time as terrorist acts on European soil have undermined freedom of movement and the feeling of security for Europeans. Half of the countries in the world are affected by terrorism, and numbers of casualties from such attacks are rising. In response to the increasingly contested and complex security environment, in June 2016, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, presented the EU’s global strategy on foreign and security policy, drafted in close cooperation with Member States, to respond to the heightened security situation.

See our best visuals from 2016

The multiple crises both at home and abroad require a strong response from the European Union. The global strategy thus plans to fund and implement strategic priorities in security and defence, building resilience in the EU neighbourhood to the east and the south, making Europe a ‘harder’ target, and ensuring that EU Member States take a common approach to conflict. The new strategy also aims for close coordination of internal justice and home affairs issues and external security and defence, as well as enhanced public diplomacy.

The EU has boots on the ground, with over 5 000 people involved in 16 different Common Security and Defence Policy missions. These initiatives are an integral part of EU ambitions to promote peace in Europe and in the wider world, to allow all to live in security, solidarity, and mutual respect.

Turning the vision into action is not going to be plain sailing however. The EU needs to work with its partners in the wider world, such as NATO, to implement the new strategy, but may also need to act autonomously. Because closer defence cooperation between Member States touches on the subject of closer integration, negotiations could prove difficult. Tangible actions need to follow bold declarations.

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for more robust action on the defence and security front, most recently before the December 2016 European Council on security and defence. External security is likely to be high on the agenda in 2017. The next report on the global strategy is due in June 2017, when we will see how willing EU Member States have been to move forward with the implementation of the new global strategy.

The EU in a contested World

The EU in a contested World

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/25/12-graphs-one-global-strategy/

What can European farming expect from new technologies?

Written by Lieve Van Woensel with James Tarlton,

How will information technology revolutionise agriculture in the 21st century? That is the question investigated by a recently published study on ‘Precision Agriculture and the Future of Farming in Europe’, which was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel. The lead panel member was Mairead McGuinness, EP Vice-President responsible for STOA. This blogpost summarises the results of the study, in terms of both the benefits that new technology could bring for agriculture and the challenges that lie ahead.

What is ‘precision agriculture’ and why is it important?

precision agriculture

© Shutterstock – Montri Nipitvittaya

Precision agriculture (PA) is the use of technology to improve the ratio between agricultural output (usually food) and agricultural input (land, energy, water, fertilisers, pesticides, etc.). It consists of using sensors to identify precisely (in space or time) the needs of crops or livestock, and then intervening in a targeted way to maximise the productivity of each plant and animal, whilst minimising waste of resources.

These technologies will need to play a key role in the further development of agriculture in the coming decades. To feed the world in 2050, global agricultural total factor productivity (TFP) – a comparison of total inputs and outputs – has to grow by an average rate of at least 1.8 % per year. By comparison, TFP in the EU only grew by an average of 0.9 % per year between 2005 and 2014.

Another promise of PA is reducing the agricultural sector’s negative impact on the environment. According to Eurostat, agriculture is responsible for about 10 % of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to this, there are big concerns about the overuse of fertilisers and pesticides, as well as soil erosion. PA could help a great deal in addressing these problems.

How might we be able to support PA?

Besides further investments in research and development, there are other issues to be addressed in order to help further drive the development of PA tools and methods. New PA business models could be investigated with a network of experimental farms, and the results used to guide farmers in redeveloping their businesses. PA needs to be promoted among the next generations of farmers through exhibitions, advertisements and brochures. The upgrading of infrastructure for 5G coverage in rural areas needs also to be addressed – because of the low population density in rural areas, private telecoms companies may be too slow in making the necessary investments, and poor internet connectivity could be a bottleneck in the adoption of PA.

One challenge to be addressed is the lack of technological expertise in rural areas and the agricultural sector. Whilst the average school drop-out rate in the EU is 14 %, with a target of 10 % by 2020, it is more than 30 % in some rural areas. About 70 % of EU farmers have no formal training in agriculture, only practical skills. And 31 % of farmers are older than 65, whilst only 6 % are younger than 35 – such an unfavourable age structure slows down the uptake rate of new technologies. This skills gap could be addressed by improving education, as well as reaching out to smaller farms, which employ 81 % of the workforce, but may have less access to information on new technological developments.

However, there is huge variability in the conditions of the agricultural sector in different Member States. The proportion of the labour force permanently employed in the agricultural sector ranges from 1.3 % to 71.5 % (these figures also include part-time workers). The average monetary output per hectare ranges from €11 095 to €527. And the average output per annual work unit (the amount of work that can be done by one full-time employee in one year) ranges from €176 000 to €8 000. EU policy measures need to take into account the variation in opportunities and concerns from one Member State to the other.

Precision agriculture has enormous potential to help with securing food sources and tackling environmental pollution and degradation. To get the most from it, the EU should invest in research and development as well as in education and outreach, but in a way that accounts for the significant diversity among Member States.

Read the complete study on ‘Precision Agriculture and the Future of Farming in Europe‘.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/24/what-can-european-farming-expect-from-new-technologies/

Work-life balance in the EU

Written by Ulla Jurviste and Rosamund Shreeves,

Work-life balance in the EU


Finding a suitable balance between work and daily life is a challenge that all workers face. Families are particularly affected. The ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household. The EU recognises the importance of reconciliation between work, private, and family life and has enacted legislation and developed policy in this area. One of the EU’s policy goals is to stimulate employment (especially among women and older workers) and growth. In this context, one of the main objectives of the Europe 2020 employment strategy is that at least 75% of the population aged 20–64 should be employed by 2020. In many Member States that will entail a significant increase in women’s labour market participation. Women, who disproportionately bear the responsibilities of caring for children and other dependants, have to balance these responsibilities with paid labour, but it is possible to facilitate the transfer of some measure of caring responsibilities onto men, thus advancing gender equality at a more profound level.

Reconciling work-life balance is also an important issue for the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), which has stressed the need to modernise the existing EU legislation, as well as to strengthen the coordination between Member States in order to ensure a level playing field regarding the costs and benefits of reconciliation policies. The Committee has identified the lack of accessible, available and affordable quality care services as well as the lack of paid leave arrangements for fathers or the insufficient incentives for fathers to use them as compared to mothers as some of the main challenges.


Parental Leave Directive: Towards a revision? by Monika Kiss, EPRS At a Glance, 2016
In the EU, parental leave is regulated by a 1996 Directive, last amended in 2013. The implementation of this Directive varies greatly among Member States and parental leave overlaps other types of leave granted to families. The European Parliament is expected to call for an evaluation of its implementation and for revision of both the Directive and related legislation.

Maternity and paternity leave in the EU by Ulla Jurviste, Martina Prpic, Giulio Sabbati, EPRS infographic, December 2016
This infographic aims to present the current state of affairs of maternity and paternity leave in EU Member States.

Measures to address the challenges of work-life balance in the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway by Aileen McColgan, December 2015, 102 p.
The report provides a comparative analysis of the extent to which 31 European states (the 28 Member States and the 3 EEA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) have adopted measures which promote the reconciliation of working and private and family life. The focus is on measures which go beyond those required by EU law. In particular, the report is concerned with flexible arrangements governing the time during which and the place in which work is undertaken, with flexibility in the use of family-related leave, with carers’ leave and with measures permitting the sharing of parts of maternity leave between parents.

Working time developments in the 21st century: Work duration and its regulation in the EU by Jorge Cabrita; Simon Boehmer; Camilla Galli da Bino; Eurofound, 2016, 102 p.
This report examines the main trends and milestones characterising the evolution of the most important aspects of collectively agreed working time in the EU during the first decade of the 21st century. It focuses in particular on five sectors: chemicals, metalworking, banking, retail and public administration. The authors point to the tension that exists between the pressure for decreased working hours in favour of a better work-life balance and fewer health problems for workers and the need for working time flexibility to meet the demands of a modern world economy. See the Chapters:


Demography and Family Policies from a Gender Perspective by Konstantina Davaki (London School of Economics and Political Sciences, the UK), EP DG IPOL, 2016, 44 p.
This study evaluates policies aiming at increasing fertility through work-life balance, reveals their interrelation with family policies and economic priorities and suggests ways of addressing challenges on all three fronts with the view to minimise their gendered outcomes. 2.4. Family and employment policies aiming at work-life balance (page 20); 2.6. Work-life balance and the economic crisis 29 (page 29); 2.7. Work-life balance, gender equality and demography (page 30).

Poverty, gender and intersecting inequalities in the EU: Review of the Implementation of Area A: Women and Poverty of the Beijing Platform for Action , Chapter 3 Pathways in to and out of poverty, especially 3.2. Work-life balance pp 35-7, 2016

The Implementation of Parental Leave Directive 2010/18 in 33 European Countries (PDF 2,76 MB) by Maria do Rosário Palma Ramalho, Petra Foubert and Susanne Burri, February 2015, 284 p.
The purpose of this report is to provide information on and present an analysis of the implementation of Parental Leave Directive 2010/18 as well as possible weaknesses and lacunae in the existing acquis. The focus of this report is on the way the various types of family leave and other measures intended to promote the reconciliation of professional and family life are addressed and combined at national level and the extent to which the national approach is in line with EU law. The main focus is on the implementation of the changes made by Parental Leave Directive 2010/18 to the previous Directive on the subject (Directive 96/34/EC2), at national level.

Differences in Men’s and Women’s Work, Care and Leisure Time by Konstantina Davaki (Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, the UK), EP DG IPOL, March 2016, 67 p.
This study examines the interrelation of policies with the ways women and men allocate time to paid work, care and leisure and the gendered outcomes produced in different socio-economic and cultural settings. It shows that policies are powerful tools which can contribute to a better work-life balance and transform gender roles in accordance with the targets of EU2020 strategy and EU28 commitment to gender equality.

What if your boss is a woman? Work organization, work-life balance and gender discrimination at the workplace by Claudio Lucifora and Daria Vigani; IZA Discussion Paper No 9737, 2016, 41 p.
The authors of this paper investigate the association between female leadership, work organization, practices and perceived gender discrimination within firms, using data for 30 European countries for the period 1995-2010.

Gender Gaps in Subjective Wellbeing: Research Report by Claudia Senik, 2015, 134 p.
In all countries of the world, and especially in high-income countries, women declare a higher level of life satisfaction than men when they experience similar conditions (for example, pay and working conditions), but score lower on measures that capture short-term positive and negative emotions, and suffer from higher levels of depression. It is true that the women’s advantage in terms of happiness and life satisfaction is not uniform along the life cycle: women are less happy than men before the age of 18, happier than men afterwards until their fifties, and less happy again thereafter. The report proposes the main explanations for these contrasts.

Working-Time Regimes and Work-Life Balance in Europe by Timo Anttila, Tomi Oinas, Mia Tammelin and Joukko Nääti, European Sociological Review, December 2015, Vol. 31 Issue 6, pp 713-724. 12p
This study analyses several aspects of temporal and spatial flexibility, and their associations with employees’ work-life balance.

Work–life balance/imbalance: the dominance of the middle class and the neglect of the working class by Tracey Warren, British Journal of Sociology, 66 (4), 2015.
The paper argues for the necessity of analysing economic – and not just temporal – roots of work-life imbalance. It concludes that if we are to continue to pursue work-life analysis, the conceptualisation of work-life needs to more full incorporate economic-based imbalance if it is to better represent class inequalities.

Stakeholder views

EU Institutions’ views

European Commission

Roadmap / August 2015 – A new start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families, which will replace the 2008 Commission proposal to amend the Maternity Leave Directive. The objective for this new initiative is to modernise and adapt the current EU legal and policy framework to allow parents with children or those with dependent relatives to better balance caring and professional responsibilities, to encourage a more equitable use of work-life balance policies between women and men, and to strengthen gender equality in the labour market.

New start for working parents and caregivers: Commission launches public consultation on work-life balance / 18 November 2015 – The EC launched a public consultation ( First stage consultation document ; second stage consultation document ; second stage consultation analytical document ) on how to improve work-life balance and reduce obstacles to women’s participation in the labour market, thereby contributing to the employment headline target of the Europe 2020 Strategy. This consultation follows the withdrawal of the Commission’s 2008 proposal to amend the 1992 Maternity Leave Directive. The Commission committed to replacing that proposal with a ‘ new start’ initiative in its Work Programme for 2016. It will seek:

  • to address the low participation of women in the labour market by improving the current EU legal and policy framework,
  • to enable a better balance between caring and professional responsibilities for working parents and people with dependent relatives,
  • to allow for a greater sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men,
  • to strengthen gender equality.

The consultation document gives an overview of the main challenges of work-life balance for parents and people with caring responsibilities and takes stock of EU-level measures already in place. In parallel to the social partner consultation on legislative measures, the consultation invites the public to provide feedback on the challenges and a possible range of EU-level policy responses.

European Parliament

European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2016 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance (2016/2017(INI) ) and FEMM-EMPL Report on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance, 2
The report calls for improvements to legislation on parental leave and stresses the importance of quality child care services and flexible forms of work. It urges the EC to bring forward proposals on:

(1) a paternity leave directive with a minimum of a two-week fully paid leave;
(2) a carers’ leave directive which supplements the provision of professional care, enables care for dependants and offers the carer adequate remuneration and social protection;

Public hearing Creating Labour Market Conditions Favourable for Work-Life Balance, 22 March 2016

Tackling social dumping: MEPs call for fair wages and social justice for workers , 21 September 2016

International organisations


Work-life balance website

International Labour Standards on Work-Life Balance


Better Life Index – Work-life balance



Reconciliation – a safety net for all families! February 2016

European Reconciliation Package 2015


ETUC position on first-stage consultation of the EU social partners on a ‘New start’ for work-life balance , January 2016

Discussing work-life balance – tensions and possible solutions , May 2016



Statistics explained – Quality of life indicators – productive or main activity ; Work-life balance ,


Better Life Index – Work-life Balance, 2016
Work-life balance in detail by country – ranking and indicators.

How’s Life? Measuring Well-Being , 2015
The study includes a wide variety of statistics, capturing both material well-being (such as income, jobs and housing) and the broader quality of people’s lives (such as their health, education, work-life balance, environment, social connections, civic engagement, subjective well-being and safety). The report documents the latest evidence on well-being, as well as changes over time, and the distribution of well-being outcomes among different groups of the population. Work-life balance on p. 74

EU Member States

The  OECD Family Database consists of cross-national indicators on the situation of families and children.
In view of the strong demand for cross-national indicators on the situation of families and children, the OECD Family Database was developed to provide cross-national indicators on family outcomes and family policies across the OECD countries, its enhanced engagement partners and EU member states. The database brings together information from various national and international databases, both within the OECD (see  related OECD databases ) and external organisations. The database currently includes 70 indicators under four main dimensions: (i) structure of families , (ii) labour market position of families , (iii) public policies for families and children and (iv) child outcomes .

Eurofound yearbook 2015: Living and working in Europe , Publications Office of the EU, Luxembourg, 2016 . Chapter on Sustainable Work , p. 62 Classifying Member States

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2016/12/23/work-life-balance-in-the-eu/