Mrs. Maria Hildingsson, Secretary General of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) based in Brussels, spoke about the value of marriage to society. She presented some factors related to family and marriage in the European situation; individualism, ageing population, low birth rates, divorces, poverty and social exclusion. Family policy in Europe is more of a preventive one, without great expertise available on the issue. There are demographic concerns. High unemployment among youth makes it difficult to establish a home. This will affect the future dramatically. Young people are connected, but not related.
Our low birth rate in Europe is not necessarily intentional and statistics show that many would like to have another child. The fact that family issues have become political issues makes it rather difficult to handle. We need to be able to talk about family in a peaceful way. Although sexual education has been compulsory since 1970s, what the youth actually ask is “how can we make lasting relationships?” Statistics show that currently young people have respect for the adults who stay intact as couples and keep their family. Families should take their role as a social and political entity and as a Rights-holder.