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What is the European Observatory on Family Policy  

The European Observatory on Family Policy is a joint research programme of COFACE Families Europe and the Centre for Family Studies of ODISEE University of Applied Sciences launched in 2022. The Observatory aims to serve as a platform for the observation, analysis, and dissemination of evidence on family policy and other social concerns directly relevant to family well-being across the European Union. 



The Observatory is implemented as a partnership between COFACE Families Europe and Odisee’s Centre for Family Studies. COFACE Families Europe offers the programme its extensive knowledge on EU policies and the realities of families across Europe, while the Centre for Family Studies provides its expertise on practice-based research from the perspective of families and its research networks in Belgium and internationally. The partnership is conceived to bring together the respective strengths and expertise on family policy and family life to better meet its monitoring and analytical goals. 



The starting point for the Observatory is human rights, gender equality, social inclusion, diversity, empowerment, and intergenerational solidarity, with a stated ambition of promoting policies which support all types of families, without discrimination. The key principles underpinning the Observatory’s activity are public interest, impartiality, and quality of content.  


The Observatory sets out to address three broad objectives: to identify emerging trends and priorities in family policy across EU Member states, while monitoring progress on family-related targets; to develop innovative frameworks for interpreting the evidence collected; to broker knowledge at the EU and member states level, providing a bridge between academics, decision makers, advocacy coalitions, and grassroots family organizations. 



Through its activity, the Observatory aims to document and highlight the impact of public policy initiatives on families, intended both as a set of individual members and as a collective entity.  It brings together different perspectives on family resources and needs from a range of public policy, research, and advocacy contexts. It strives to integrate these viewpoints into a unified theoretical framework, and to design suitable recommendations for policymaking at EU, national, and local levels.  





Steering Group

Its activities are overseen and coordinated by an executive Steering Group that convenes regularly and outlines the strategic direction for the partnership. The Steering Group further ensures the quality, consistency, and timeliness of the Observatory’s activity. Coordination of the Observatory is based in Brussels. Members of the Steering group are: 


Annemie Drieskens, President of COFACE and Steering Group chair. 

Annemie is President of COFACE Families Europe and board member of Gezinsbond in Belgium. She has been for many years actively involved in Social and family policy at National and European level giving a voice to the needs and challenges that families are facing, and defending the rights of all families and their members in EU and beyond.

Kathleen Emmery, Coordinator of ODISEE Knowledge Centre for Family Studies.

Kathleen has been coordinator of ODISEE since 2012. In her scientific work on relationship support and family transitions, Kathleen focuses on the needs and demands of families, fathers, mothers, children and professionals, through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Elizabeth Gosme, Director of COFACE.

Elizabeth has been Director of COFACE since 2016. She is an EU social policy analyst with extensive experience in EU affairs representing the interests of civil society organisations. She has worked extensively with various EU institutions contributing to building a social policy architecture for Europe.

Sven Iversen, Vice-president of COFACE.

 Sven Iversen is Vice-President of COFACE Families Europe, delegated from  the Association of German Family Organisations (AGF), of which he is  General Manager. He is a political scientist, holds an MBA and has previously held positions in a parliamentary group, an agency for sustainability and particpation, in cultural management and the prevention childhood obesity.

Jos Sterckx, Senior Researcher at ODISEE.

Jos Sterckx worked as a social worker / family counselor and director in a foster care service. Subsequently, he was director of a Flemish umbrella of 150 service providers in the disability field; and director of the Knowledge Center Social Europe from 2008 to 2018. He advises and supports the researchers of ODISEE in project development and European funding.

Tanja Neulant, Director of ODISEE Knowledge Center for Family Studies.

Tanja Nuelant is director of  graduate and bachelor programmes and research in the field of social work, orthopedagogy and family studies at Odisee University College. Tanja is also family policy advisor  of Gezinsbond (the Flemish league of families).

Martino Serapioni is Research Programme Coordinator at COFACE
He coordinates research activities in the framework of the European Observatory on Family Policy. Prior to COFACE, he worked as researcher in comparative early childhood education and care policy at the G.M. Bertin Faculty of Education of the University of Bologna. He is a member of the European Commission Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training (NESET II). 

Report of the European Observatory on Family Policy: Towards greater family policy integration across Europe


Families with young children have complex necessities in the period before the start of compulsory schooling. Often, these needs cannot be reduced to educational, healthcare or caregiving demands alone.

Successful fulfillment of these needs requires a joint effort of different governmental organizations to build ties and form functioning networks of cooperation over a long period of time. This comparative report aims to investigate possible responses to the multisectoral needs of households by providing an overview of the current alignment and coordination between complementary services and policy areas in four European countries (Finland, Germany, Italy, and Poland) and the Belgian region of Flanders.


Read the full report here and watch our research webinar presenting the findings below.


Core partners 

COFACE Families Europe and the Odisee University are the core partners of the European Observatory on Family Policy.



File:Odisee logo (2019).svg - Wikimedia Commons


For further questions and inquiries contact Martino Serapioni, Research Programme Coordinator
European Observatory on Family Policy :