Belgium top of the list
From the 46 countries surveyed, Belgium ranks first, in joint position with France, thanks to its reimbursement schemes, including for long-term contraception, special arrangements for young people and government supported websites such as the multilingual website zanzu.be for migrants and allesoverseks.be (everythingaboutsex.be) a website that specifically addresses the needs of young people. Compared to the Benelux, France and the UK, contraception policies are weak in Latvia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark.
Access to modern, effective and affordable contraception remains a challenge in many European countries. Although 69% of European women of child-bearing age who are married or living with a partner use contraception, this is lower than some of the countries in both the North America and the Latin America regions. The low uptake of contraception contributes to a high rate of unintended pregnancies with over 43% pregnancies in the European region considered unplanned.
Poland and Hungary, not coincidentally countries with an anti-choice government, are the worst performing EU countries. In these countries women face huge challenges in access to contraception. In Poland the government decided to block access to emergency contraception, using concerns regarding the low birth rates in the country as an argument. Belgian Senator Petra De Sutter, EPF President, defended the need to improve contraception access: “If you compare the Atlas to population growth statistics, you’ll see that the top scorers correlate, so contraception isn’t a threat to population growth, but rather a means of letting people decide when they want to have children.” The European Parliamentary Forum calls on European governments to do more to meet the SDG target to realise universal access to contraception.