Growing inequality affects children’s access to healthcare and education; poverty continues to remain persistently high among children (24%), compared to the adult population (22%). Despite this, the European Semester – the European framework for socio-economic coordination – has failed to motivate countries to prioritise children.
The latest Eurochild report “New opportunities for investing in children”, assesses the European Semester featuring the situation of children in 22 countries with alternative recommendations for 2020.
“Eurochild has engaged with the European Semester since 2011. While there is greater visibility of children, there has been little improvement in children’s lives. Child poverty remains too high across Europe. The next 5-year cycle of the EU offers an opportunity to ramp up investment and political action. We look to the EU to set ambitious targets and to catalyse national action with the European Child Guarantee initiative” – Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General, Eurochild.
Eurochild’s latest report “New opportunities for investing in children” analyses the impact of the European Semester on children in 22 European countries and offers following five key findings:
1. Child poverty still not given the attention it deserves
Despite persistent rates of child poverty being a common issue of concern across Europe, ranging from countries with high GDP to lower GDP countries, national and European measures and funding did not provide adequate solutions. Eurochild members collectively call for national strategies to tackle child poverty, boosted by the opportunity of the European Child Guarantee initiative.
2. Particularly vulnerable groups of children being left behind
The European Semester process must ensure governments prioritise interests of all children in their socio-economic policies, especially the most vulnerable. For instance in Bulgaria, Hungary, Estonia and Latvia, healthcare services fail to reach children in rural areas. In Germany, where child poverty has been on the rise, children of low skilled parents are even more likely to face poverty. Eurochild’s Danish member proposes the 2020 European Semester recommendation to address the rising inequality between various groups of society.
3. Welcome attention given to early childhood education and care
Quality and accessibility of early childhood education and care must be important criteria, alongside participation of children in early education services.
4. More effort needed to prevent family separation
While progress has been made in deinstitutionalisation reforms (in 12 European countries), more efforts are needed to improve family and community-based alternative care provision to prevent family separation.
5. Systematic participation of children, a right of all children, is still underdeveloped
Voice of children must be heard in decision-making processes to fully realise the rights of children and build a stronger, more cohesive society.
The report ‘New opportunities for investing in children’ comes at a time when Europe’s next strategic direction is under discussion with the start of the new legislature. Eurochild makes the case for prioritising children, and setting corresponding EU targets in the next policy framework guiding the European Semester. The report also offers its own alternatives to the country specific recommendations in light of assessments by 29 Eurochild members. It comments furthermore, on the links between policy monitoring and the use of EU funding; and makes recommendations to EU decision-makers for ensuring the overall process is more inclusive and leads to better outcomes for children.