The importance of family and children, and the inversion of unfavourable demographic trends in Europe, will be on the Hungarian Presidency’s agenda during the European week of popu-lation and family. This was opened with a special press conference at the Millenary Event Centre of Budapest, on 26 March 2011.
Between 28 March and 2 April, the European thematic week on population and family issues called “Europe for Families, Families for Europe”, will include a set of international expert, scientific and civil conferences, at an informal meeting of ministers for demography and family matters. Finally, a big public event called “Family Festival with Europe” at Millenary.
A special press conference was held by Miklós Réthelyi, Minister for National Resources, Miklós Soltész, Minister of State for Social, Family and Youth Affairs, and Enikő Győri, Minister of State for EU Affairs. The 3 ministers and their colleagues arrived with their children and grandchildren, asking journalists to do the same. The children were awaited with a drawing and play corner, serving them pancakes and cocoa.
Enikő Győri stressed that the Hungarian Presidency wishes to create a tradition, by putting families and family policy in the spotlight. She added that the adoption of the six-law package, aiming to reinforce budget and macro-economic supervision, a priority for the Presidency. It is also closely linked to families and family policy.
The reason is that the reform of the EU’s economic governance, mainly intends to prevent Member States from funding their expenditures from debts to the detriment of future generations. “Bringing indebtedness to a halt, helps our children regain their future and opportunities,” the Minister of State pointed out.
EU also seen as one big family
Enikő Győri presented a drawing, submitted to “My Message to Europe”, a contest jointly announced by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and National Resources. The contest invited school children to send European politicians messages about their perception of Europe’s future.
The Minister of State presented a drawing which she believed to convey the message that Europe must be family-friendly. As she put it, the European Union is also “a big family of 27 members. We sometimes quarrel, but this happens in any family.”
The Minister of State for EU Affairs, added that in a properly functioning community, cohesion means the assumption of a common fate, mutual recognition and a set of shared values. She believes cohesion policy is a fine example of the existence of these values in “the EU family”, where developed countries help poorer ones to bridge the gap.
At the same time, mutual recognition also matters: “in the EU, every Member State is heard, when decisions are made. Indeed, in certain matters Malta, the smallest country, and Germany, the biggest one, have the same weight”, Ms Győri reminded. The Minister of State ended up saying, the Presidency proposes to make 2014 the European Year of Families.
Having children gives parents more opportunities
Minister Miklós Réthelyi, recalled that “Europe for Families, Families for Europe” is not merely the name of a single event, but the motto of an entire thematic week on population issues, organised by the Presidency. The unfavourable demographic trends in Hungary, and in the entire European Union, have prompted the Presidency and the ministry to deal with family policy as a major issue. Mr Réthelyi encouraged having children: “the more children you have, the greater your chances.”
Minister of State Miklós Soltész, talked about the importance of equal opportunities and the family. He believes the next great challenge for youth policy, is the way to prepare young people for family life. This was the lesson of the conference, held by European youth, Directors General for Youth Affairs and representatives of the European Commission in Gödöllő, in early March.
Work and family balance
The Secretary of State announced that the next few days will witness several events in Hungary, concerning this policy area. The series of events will be concluded by the informal meeting of EU Ministers for Family Matters on 4 April, to be attended by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. At the meeting, the Hungarian Presidency wants to involve Poland, in the adoption of a declaration on the reconciliation of family and work life; and its impact on demographic dynamics.
The special press conference in Budapest, was finished by Zoltán Gloviczki, Deputy Secretary of State for Education of the Ministry for National Resources, who entertained the children of attendees with magic tricks.