Stay-at-home mothers, get back to work: European Union

Called “Operation Mama,” the scheme is aimed particularly at mothers whose children are between six and 16.
By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

BRUSSELS, June 9, 2011 ( – German, Austrian and Dutch mothers who want to stay at home should get back to work to solve Europe’s labor problems, an EU Commission report has said.

The European Union is facing a demographic meltdown, with nearly all of its 27 member states maintaining fertility rates well below replacement level. Abortion and contraception are legal in every state but Malta and marriage rates are steadily falling in all states. With increasing numbers of people entering retirement age and fewer young workers coming up from behind to replace them, Europe’s under-population crisis is already creating a labor shortage.

So what’s the solution? According to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, it’s for stay-at-home mothers to leave their children in day care and get jobs.

“Germany, but also Austria and the Netherlands, should look at the example of the northern countries,” Barroso said.

“That means removing obstacles for women, older workers, foreigners and low-skilled job-seekers to get into the workforce. Excessive early retirement regulations need to be abolished.”

Barroso said that what is needed is more childcare places and reductions of income tax for two-income families. The EU Commission report notes that in Sweden 85 percent of mothers with pre-school children and 90 percent of mothers with school children are employed, and 75 percent of Danish women work.

The report says, “Women and older workers represent a significant potential which could be quickly mobilised. An estimated 1.2 million professionals could be tempted back to the workplace if the options to combine child care and work were improved.”

Called “Operation Mama,” the scheme is aimed particularly at mothers whose children are between six and 16. “These mothers are, for the most part, highly educated and motivated,” says the report.

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