[European Union] New European Parliament takes its First Steps to Protect Children's Rights

26 Nov 2019
Source: 
Eurochild

The text of the resolution is the result of the cooperation of five political groups, i.e. EPP, S&D, Renew Europe, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL. The resolution clearly underlines the utmost necessity for the European Union (EU) to act in this field not only because the promotion of children rights is an explicit objective of EU policies and is enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, but also because children account for 20% of the EU population and that 23 million children in the EU are living at risk of poverty or social exclusion. 

The EP calls on the Commission and Member States to adopt the Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration which highlights that “the culture of child participation can be built at all levels - family, community, local, regional, national and European - and can bring short- and long-term benefits to the society”. It also calls on the Member States to strengthen the participation of children in their legislative processes creating “meaningful mechanisms for child participation, such as children’s councils”.

With regard to investing in children, the EP calls for the EU and its Member States to step up their efforts to end child poverty and to “consider children as a priority when programming and implementing regional and cohesion policies”. Member States are encouraged to “invest in public services for children including childcare, education and health”. Importantly, the document explicitly “calls on the Member States to support the establishment of a European Child Guarantee with appropriate resources” and underlines the “importance of introducing children’s rights and well-being as parameters of the country specific recommendations in the framework of the European Semester and in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights”. 

The document also stresses the following important points: 

  • It states that the best interest of the child must be at the heart of all the EU policies, 
  • It calls on the “Member States to treat every child first and foremost as a child”
  • It calls for the “appointment of a high-level public figure as the EU representative on children’s rights”
  • It condemns all forms of violence against children, including sexual abuse and sexual exploitation
  • It calls on the “Member States to guarantee the right to education to every child” 
  • It calls on the EU to “support the transition from institutional to community-based services” 

On a less positive note, the resolution only marginally references the value of Early Childhood Development, within the context of improving work-life balance. In this way, it fails to stress that early childhood is a crucial period of life laying the foundation of children’s development and misses the opportunity to highlight the support that should be provided to parents during this paramount period of time. 

Given that the adopted text explicitly reflects many issues Eurochild has been standing up for (such as children’s participation, tackling child poverty and investing in children) and that the motion was supported and drafted by five different political groups, Eurochild considers this a first important step, in this new Parliament, towards a better protection of children’s rights in Europe. 

Based on this Resolution, Eurochild looks forward to working with the Child Rights Champions and a re-established European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights to ensure that children’s rights are at the heart of policy making for the 2019-24 EP mandate.

The adoption of the Resolution follows on from the high level celebrations that took place the previous week on the occasion of the 30th anniversary on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the European Parliament in Brussels. Eurochild was represented in the high level panel discussion by members of its Children’s Council and President H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. 

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