In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC calls on the European Union to develop a coherent and uniform approach to protecting unaccompanied foreign minors in Europe. It urges the European Commission to draw up a Directive on the protection of unaccompanied minors that serves the best interests of the child. The principle of "the best interests of the child" should take precedence over all other national and international law. The EESC calls on the Member States to evaluate minority based on a body of evidence, consisting principally of the declarations by the person in question, civil status documents presented and interviews with the person. Given that bone tests are not really reliable, the EESC calls for them to simply be stopped.
The EESC adopted this opinion after in-depth work carried out during the four meetings of the study group. The opinion also reflects the national debates with civil society organisations carried out in all Member States between 2 September and 2 November 2016. These discussions were coordinated by three members of the EESC ('trios') from the country concerned, often in cooperation with the European Commission (15 debates) or the national economic and social council (7 debates). Participants came from a wide range of employers' and trade union organisations and other civil society organisations, as well as, to a lesser extent, from the academic world. A total of 116 EESC members and nearly 1,800 representatives of civil society organisations participated in the 28 debates. The conclusions/recommendations of the national debates have been grouped in the opinion, while the reports on the national debates will be published separately.
Sport helps meet the EU’s strategic objectives, brings to the fore key educational and cultural values and is a conduit of integration, since it is open to all members of the public, regardless of their gender, ethnic origin, religion, age, nationality, social situation or sexual orientation. Sport is a tool to tackle intolerance, xenophobia and racism. The principle of good governance and sound management should ensure integrity in sporting competitions.
The EESC recommends that the European Commission and the Member States support further studies and research that would tap the potential of gifted children and young people, aiming to facilitate employment and employability within the framework of the EU and, in a context of economic crisis, enhance specialist knowledge and prevent brain drain. It also recommends that greater consideration be given to each Member State's existing models for and experience in working with highly gifted children, and presents various proposals aimed at improving educational care for children and young people with high abilities.
The EESC considers that this issue needs to be analysed very thoroughly and placed within an EU framework taking into consideration the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Special emphasis must be placed on empowering, informing and educating children, families and teachers. The EESC calls on advertisers and sponsors to adopt and apply the highest levels of protection of children's rights.
The aim of this additional opinion is to put forward some examples or recommendations for prevention, insufficiently addressed in the new proposed directive on combating the sexual abuse of children. Preventive measures should be holistic, child-centred and happen as early as possible. The EESC calls on the European Commission to adopt and enforce a European Union Prevention Strategy Against Child Sexual Abuse. There are also many excellent initiatives of civil society actors to be endorsed. To that end the EESC has produced a database of best practice.