The Commission's latest initiatives on children's rights call on European and national policy-makers to work towards the common good of all children growing up in the EU. The two initiatives are ambitious and bold in their approach to ensuring a life free from any discrimination for each and every child and have won the EESC's approval.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has given its backing to the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and to the proposal for a Council Recommendation establishing the legally binding EU Child Guarantee. The EESC believes that implementing these initiatives would support efforts at EU and national level to promote children's well-being and reduce child poverty.
In the opinion on the European Child Guarantee, adopted at the plenary session in July, the EESC stressed that the fight against child poverty, discrimination, deprivation and social exclusion required a coordinated European and whole-society approach, ensuring that children's rights are mainstreamed into different policies and that these policies have empowering and long-lasting effects on children's health and well-being.
"The figure of one in four children in the EU growing up at risk of poverty is unacceptable. We need strong policies and legal frameworks to break the often intergenerational cycle of disadvantage and reverse this trend. We need to have an ambitious target that aims to lift all children out of poverty by 2030 and not just five million children, which is currently the poverty target under the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR)," stated the rapporteur for the opinion, Kinga Joó.
Children require attention from all layers of society. Consolidating their rights should be a priority for the EU. To this end, we need an inclusive, cross-cutting and intersectional strategy, a true policy based on equity, to ensure equal opportunities and inclusion for all children, regardless of their circumstances," said co-rapporteur Maria del Carmen Barrera Chamorro.
According to Eurostat data for 2019, 18 million children, or 22.2%, were growing up at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the EU. Digital and energy poverty are equally detrimental to children and should also be tackled within the Child Guarantee, according to the EESC. Some 5.4% of school-aged children in Europe live in households without a computer or an internet connection. Some 25% of Europeans live in energy-poor households, which also affects children's quality of life and health.
To lift European children out of poverty, the EESC recommended that all Member States allocate at least 5% of ESF+ funding for that purpose. According to the new regulation, only those Member States in which child poverty surpasses the EU average of 23.4% are required to earmark this percentage of their ESF+ financial resources to combat it. So far, this has been done by only 11 countries.(ll)