Sirpa

I am Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish Member of the European Parliament representing the European People’s Party (EPP) since 2008. I was Finland’s Minister of Environment from 1991 to 1995 and a Member of the Finnish Parliament from 1983 to 2003.

At the European Parliament, I am a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) and the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM), as well as substitute in the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI).

I have been the rapporteur and shadow rapporteur of the Parliament’s texts on circular economy, and I have given hundreds of speeches about eco-design, waste reduction and policies supporting growth in circular economic practices.

I am committed to the idea of a Europe with a human face, a Europe that guarantees the respect of human rights, rule of law, democracy, equal opportunities, social inclusion and access to high quality services. To achieve this, Europe needs economic stability and growth.

Prosperous Europe needs enhanced surveillance of the financial sector as well as transparency. Investments in education and research are needed to foster innovations that allow us to benefit from digitalization and to move towards a circular economy. Only by becoming continuously wiser and more flexible can we stay at the top of international competition. Only a prosperous Europe can build well-being and protect environment, and the other way around – only a society that takes care of its citizens and of the environment can be prosperous. Human, economic and environmental well-being are an inseparable entity.

I believe these new business models and paradigm changes are essential in the creation of an environmentally friendly Europe, in which production and consumption are designed in a way that allows our continent to be viable for the generations to come. Europe should lead the way and keep the environment high on its agenda including in its external policies to reach ambitious international agreements. In the near future, decisions makers are responsible for keeping our globe viable.

However, the EU cannot give responses on its own to issues concerning prosperity, fair economic competition, the environment or security. The common mission of the Union shall thus be the reinforcement and the reform of multilateral negotiation procedures on the international level. The EU can be a great hub of global influence when it stresses better policy making through international organizations. This is my idea of a ”Global Europe”.

You can check my parliamentary activities here.

My assistants at the Parliament are Maari, Laura, Essi and Iida. Do not hesitate to contact us (contact details below) if you have questions, meeting requests or any other demands. Comments on my parliamentary work are also more than welcome. I am looking forward to your contact!

Sirpa Pietikäinen’s CV

Photos for press use (Flickr)

Contacts

Iida Ahonen

Communications, media contacts

Maari Alanko

ENVI committee, circular economy, education, culture, meetings in Brussels

Essi Ervasti

ECON committee, sustainable finance and taxonomy, internal market, international trade

Laura Pätsi

FEMM committee, fundamental rights, health

Postal Addresses

In Brussels

European Parliament
Parlement Européen
ASP 9 E 153
Rue Wiertz 60
B-1047 Bruxelles
Belgium
tel. +32-2-284 5264
fax. +32-2284 9264

In Strasbourg

European Parliament
Parlament Européen
LOW-08.053
Allée du Printemps
F-67070 Strasbourg
France
tel. +33-3-881 75264
fax. +33-3-881 79264

Kuukauden puheenaihe
May 2022

European Care Strategy

The European Parliament is currently preparing its position on the European care strategy prepared by the European Commission. The strategy is due to be published by the Commission in September. I am the Parliament’s co-rapporteur for this important report, and negotiations on the report are currently going on between the political groups. Parliament’s report is due to be completed in July, so that it can still influence the content of the upcoming Care Strategy.

The structural problems of care need to be addressed

The care report is one of the most important reports I have negotiated this term. The problems in care are quite similar across Europe, and we need joint EU-wide action to improve the quality of care. Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has finally brought to light the serious problems that lie in European care and healthcare. Our healthcare systems were not prepared for a pandemic or any special situation. This needs to be fixed. Care needs reforms to better take into consideration the autonomy and personal needs of those being cared for, so that carers are supported more and better.

It is also high time to address the structural problems of care – if care is not a gender issue, I don’t know what it is. Women are in the majority as both carers and care users. Caring responsibilities are the reason for almost 20% of women to stay out of work. This has far-reaching implications for women’s social security and pensions. About 80% of care work in the EU is informal care, and 75% of informal carers are women.

Despite great promises, the problems of the female-dominated care sector and, for example, the level of pay have still not been corrected in Finland and in many other countries to what it should be. The pay gap in the care sector is partly due to the fact that women’s work has historically not been valued as much as men’s. I’ve always wondered why repairing cars is paid better than caring for people.

More support for informal carers

I would in particular like to emphasize in the Parliament’s report on care the acknowledgement and recognition of informal carers and their support. For this we need a European informal carers programme. We still don’t always sufficiently recognize caregiving, especially when it’s part-time and for a family member. A working spouse or child can actually assist, care for, and be responsible for a loved one on a daily basis, without even being recognized as a carer for them by our systems.

The position of working caregivers is often difficult both physically and mentally. They are weighed down by worries about their loved ones, lack of time, difficulty leaving work in the middle of the day if necessary, arranging home care and other everyday worries. Caregivers will not survive unless they are supported and helped. We cannot expect an elderly spouse to continue to care for the other alone when the need for both care is already great and growing. That is why carers need financial support for the life situation – like child benefit, statutory for everyone – but also adequate services.

In addition, I want to ensure that the Parliament’s position calls for accessible, affordable and high-quality care for all Europeans. European care needs to move from institutions to more community-based and personalized care that meets the needs of the individual. In addition, we need clear European indicators to assess, for example, the quality of care, accessibility and good practices in the various Member States.

We must find a common European solution that guarantees care that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Europeans. Each of us needs care and is dependent on it at some point in our lives. The value of care should be in line with this.