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New European movement for carers

12 June 2007

Carers' organisations are to lobby Commission and MEPs for greater support. Eurocarers – a new platform for carers within the European Union – is to be launched on Tuesday 12 June in the European Parliament in Brussels.

The President is to be Baroness Pitkeathley OBE, who has spearheaded the cause of carers so successfully in the UK, in Europe and across the world. With every one of the 27 European Union member states facing at least a doubling of the population over the age of 80 in the coming decades, all EU states will have a large and growing group of adults who will need to be cared for in older age.

Eurocarers is to be a lobbying and campaigning platform to give a voice to the estimated 100 million carers living within the EU who provide unpaid care to a partner, relative or friend in need of help because they are ill, frail or disabled. They need greater rights and recognition. They need practical, financial and emotional support.

The new organisation – Eurocarers – currently comprises representatives of 15 organisations and research bodies from nine countries – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Members have come together to influence policy within the European Institutions to ensure that the invaluable contribution of carers is recognised across Europe.

Demographic projections to 2050 show, for example, that in Cyprus and Ireland the number of people over 80 years will quadruple, and even in countries where the total population is expected to fall significantly, countries such as Poland will have an increase in its 80+ population of 226 per cent.

Baroness Pitkeathley, the President of Eurocarers, says:

"This presents both a wonderful opportunity and a new challenge to ensure that we learn from the experiences of each other and give carers a voice at the European level. Having worked with Carers UK over the years, I've seen enormous changes for carers in the UK, but we also know from countless research programmes that there is still much more to do. It is vital, too, that in an enlarging Union we help carers in the new member states make their voice heard."

Tuesday 12 June 2007 also sees the launch of a European Parliament Interest Group on Carers made up of MEPs from all parties, which will be closely linked to the work of Eurocarers.

Marian Harkin MEP, who has supported the Interest Group on Carers in the European Parliament, says:

"I am delighted to be involved with the Interest Group in the European Parliament. The Interest Group will enable us to bring the issue of caring onto the European agenda and it is crucial in ensuring the recognition of, and reward for, their work. They are the largest single workforce in Europe and they are the glue that holds society together."

Carers UK, which has played a leading role in this European movement for carers, will provide the secretariat for Eurocarers.

Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, says:

"The launch today of Eurocarers is another landmark in our campaign to secure a better deal for carers. We are really looking forward to working with our new partners to make the case for carers at the European level. The stark demographic reality is our cue to develop sound policies and services for the growing numbers of carers. We look forward to pushing ahead with a shared agenda to improve the lives of carers across Europe."

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