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Informal care forms a cornerstone of all long-term care (LTC) systems in Europe and is often seen as a cost-effective way of preventing institutionalisation and enabling users to remain at home. Most recent LTC reform packages have included important components focused on informal carers. The purpose of this study is to explore the range and meaning of policies which ‘formalise’ the role and status of informal carers in a subset of European countries. These schemes, either directed at carers specifically or indirectly through user policies, ‘formalise’ the caregiving role and, to varying extents, treats carers as recognized care providers. The study also attempts to shed light on the relevance of this policy trend for quality of informal care.