Brussels 2024

XL EUFASA Conference


The Belgian partner and family association BeFamily hosted the 40th annual EUFASA AISBL conference on 13. – 14. May 2024 in Brussels, Belgium. Delegates from 18 member associations as well as Family Officers from 11 European foreign service systems participated in the meeting. Selected highlights from the conference are presented below.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib opened the conference, stressing her ministry’s commitment to enabling more partners and spouses to work abroad, improving support for families abroad, and making it easier for foreign-born partners to attain Belgian citizenship.  In her speech she told those in attendance that “the role of family policy within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has never been more pivotal. Our diplomats traverse the globe, often relocating with their loved ones, to uphold our nation’s interests and values. It is our duty to ensure that their families are supported, their sacrifices acknowledged, and their well-being prioritized.”

The Work and Employment Working Group presented their guidance paper, developed to help foreign service partners and spouses understand all the issues that must be addressed to work remotely across borders, with helpful links to useful information and services in several countries in Europe. The working group intends to update the paper regularly for EUFASA member associations.

The EUFASA Research Department (ERD) published a new report entitled “Diplomatic partners and paid work: Challenges and Remedies,” an analysis of data on diplomatic partners’/spouses’ work and the many barriers they face in finding and maintaining gainful employment. (Read the report “Diplomatic partners and paid work: Challenges and Remedies” here). The study highlighted the lack of data on rates of employment and unemployment among foreign service partners and spouses. The ERD presented their plans to collect data on un- and underemployment among foreign service partners and spouses in the coming months.

The Web & Media Working Group announced that EUFASA is now sharing updates, insights, and engaging with foreign service spouses and other stakeholders on Facebook, X, and Instagram.

In a joint session, Family Officers reported on the supports their ministries offer in cases of separation or divorce; a few ministries are considering making improvements to their support as a result of the ERD’s research on dependency and divorce/separation.

Other working group presentations examined the experiences of foreign service children who often juggle multiple languages, and ways in which foreign service families can contribute to the UN Agenda 2030 environmental goals.