REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS on the development of childcare facilities for young children with a view to increase female labour participation, strike a work-life balance for working parents and bring about sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe (the "Barcelona objectives")
1. The report notes progress across the EU on the provision of childcare facilities for children under school age. It also contains data on women’s labour market participation and domestic responsibilities.
2. The availability of affordable, quality childcare is recognised across Europe as an important factor in enabling women and men with caring responsibilities to participate in the labour market. The EU’s Education and Training 2020 Strategy also recognises the importance of early childhood education and care in tackling social disadvantage and improving the development of pre-school children.
3. There are two non-binding Europe-wide targets for the provision of childcare (known as the Barcelona Targets”) originally agreed in 2002. These are to provide childcare to 90 % of children from age three until mandatory school age, and to 33 % of children under three.
4. The target of 33 % of children under three has largely been reached in 12 Member States according to Eurostat data of 2016. In the remaining 16 Member States, there are 10 Member States where less than 25 % of children in the youngest age group participate in childcare.
5. The target for children from age three to mandatory school-going age has been reached in 12 Member States, and 86.3 % of children from three to the mandatory school-going age participate in formal childcare or attend preschool.
6. Progress has been made since the objectives were agreed. A Commission report in 2013 stated that only six Member States managed to reach both targets in 2011, and three Member States reached only the target for children from three until mandatory school age. Four Member States reached only the target for children from 0 to three.