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8.5.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/133

(2003/C 110 E/151) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2943/02


by Hanja Maij-Weggen (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(18 October 2002)

Subject: Child care situation in Member States and promoting child care

In the conclusions of the Barcelona European Council (point 32, fifth indent), it was stated that EU
Member States should strive to provide child care by 2010 to at least 90 % of children between 3 years old
and the mandatory school age and at least 33 % of children under 3 years of age.

What is the current situation in each Member State for children under 3 years of age and for children
between 3 years old and the mandatory school age?

How will the Commission encourage and monitor these efforts?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(5 December 2002)

In 2002, for the first time, Member States were asked to provide data on childcare coverage in their
National Action Plans for employment (NAPs), on the basis of an agreed indicator. Eleven Member States
provided information, of which nine provided data on childcare coverage. This information and data
represents an important source of information on the state of play of childcare provisions in the Union.
An overview of the situation in the Member States in relation to childcare provision is reflected in the
2002 draft Joint Employment Report as adopted by the Commission on 13 November 2002 (http://
europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2002/nov/jer2002_en.pdf (1)). However, this information is
not comparable across Member-States as it is based on the NAPs 2002, which included only national
sources that are not in compliance with the indicators agreed at Union level. As a consequence, it is
difficult to assess the effect of the initiatives mentioned in the NAPs.

Despite this, it can be said, according to the information available from the NAPs presented by Member
States in 2001 and 2002, there has been a certain evolution over the last two years in the provision of
childcare facilities.

In fact, in response to 2001 guidelines, some countries set quantitative targets both in absolute and in
percentage terms for increasing the provision of childcare facilities.

Moreover, the information provided in the NAPs 2002 shows that childcare provision has continued to
improve. Many countries report on the expansion of childcare services; a growing number of Member
States announce new measures; and, in comparison with 2001, other Member States set quantitative
targets and deadlines to improve childcare facilities.

However, we are still far from the Barcelona targets. Despite the positive improvements reflected in the
NAPs, good and affordable services are still not sufficient to meet demand and this lack of facilities acts as
a disincentive to female participation in the labour market. Moreover, while it is possible to say that there
have been improvements in childcare provision in specific Member States, i.e. in comparison with the
previous year, it is impossible to compare different Member States.

For this reason, the Commission is carrying out further work to improve statistics on care. In 2002,
Eurostat launched a follow-up study to a previous feasibility study on childcare statistics, which had helped
to define the two indicators in the 2002 NAPs to which Member States were invited to respond. This study
aims to develop guidelines for data collection in order to improve national and, at a later stage,
Community sources. This would make it possible to compare data and to measure progress towards the
Barcelona targets. Results are expected by March 2003.

(1) Table 6, pages 55-57.