Irish Presidency Conference :
Families Change and Social Policy in Europe
Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
13th - 14th May 2004
Foreword: Mr. Seamus Brennan, T.D. Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Ireland (
see note 1)
Families form the basic units of our societies. They are fundamental to our well being as individuals and as a society, and "they are the cradle of generations to come" (
see note 2). They provide the main support for the care of our children and other dependent family members, including older persons.
Families are also the oldest expression of human relationship, and have been continually adapting to change, human development and progress. The pace of change, however, has accelerated over recent decades and is having a profound effect on families, as well as on other institutions in society.
The Irish EU Presidency, therefore, decided with the support of the EU Commission, to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN International Year of the Family by holding an international Conference entitled "Families, Change and Social Policy in Europe". The EU Treaties do not provide for competence in the field of family policy as such. They do, however, provide competence for EU action in the social policy field in relation to social protection, employment, social inclusion and demography. The modernisation and development of social policy to meet the challenges posed by the impact of change on families was the main theme of the Conference.
Note 1 : Minister Brennan was appointed Minister for Social and Family Affairs in September 2004.
Note 2: Family: Challenges for the future, United Nations 1996