A report examined provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in 32 European countries, including the United Kingdom, providing data and comparative analysis on a range of issues including: access to ECEC; governance; quality assurance; affordability; qualifications and training among staff; leadership; parent involvement; and measures to support disadvantaged children. The report said that eight European countries (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Malta, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway) guaranteed a legal right to ECEC soon after a child's birth, while in all other countries the gap between the end of maternity/parental leave and legal entitlement to ECEC was over two years. It said that provision of quality ECEC was affected in many countries by lack of funding, staff shortages, qualifications levels of employees, and an absence of educational guidelines for teachers and other staff. Provision, staffing requirements, and fee levels varied across Europe and, for children under three, fees were highest in Ireland, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland (countries with high levels of private provision). Although most countries offered some means-tested financial support, children from disadvantaged families had lower ECEC participation rates. The report included summaries of existing provision and fees for each country.
Source: European Commission, EACEA, Eurydice, and Eurostat, Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe: 2014 edition, European Union
A report examined how the changes to benefits systems during the economic crisis in Europe had affected children. It said that the crisis had deeply affected public spending, and that the percentage of children living in poverty or social exclusion had risen in several member states during the crisis, in part due to changes in the system of social protection, but also owing to families' increased risk of unemployment and income reduction. It said that in spite of some deterioration of child and family policies and services, recent reforms and measures across member states aimed to protect vulnerable families, including (according to an OECD report) policies in the United Kingdom.
Source: Barbara Janta and Marie-Louise Henham, Social Protection During the Economic Crisis: How do changes to benefits systems affect children?, RR-555, DG Employment, European Union
The European Commission began consultation on proposals to review the Brussels IIa Regulation, which was the basis for cross-border judicial co-operation in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, in particular where separating parents resided in more than one country. The Commission also published a background report on the operation of the Regulation, which said that it worked well, but outlined areas requiring greater clarity, issues regarding enforcement, and a need for better co-operation between member states. The consultation would close on 18 July 2014 and would inform an overall assessment of the Regulation.
Source: European Commission
A collection of articles examined the existing and future role of the European Union in realizing children's rights.
Source: Realising the Rights of Every Child Everywhere: Moving forward with the EU, Eurochild
An article examined the relationship between age norms and second birth rates in 23 European countries. It considered whether ideas about the 'proper' age for parenthood interacted with actual ages at first birth in influencing second birth transitions. In regions with older ideal ages for parenthood, the second birth rate was depressed for women with young ages at first birth, and vice versa. This effect, however, was strongly reduced and remained only marginally significant after controlling for an interaction between regional gross domestic product and age at first birth – suggesting that rich regions exhibited weaker postponement effects, and that this relationship largely absorbed the effect of age norms. The negative effect of high age at first birth on the second birth rates also attenuated with educational attainment.
Source: Jan Van Bavel and Natalie Nitsche, '"The proper age for parenthood" and second birth rates in Europe', European Sociological Review, Volume 29 Number 6