Putting children at the centre: Intergroup welcomes the EU Child Rights Strategy
- By Federico
- In Uncategorized
Brussels, 24 March 2021
Today the European Commission adopted the first-ever EU strategy on the rights of the child, which encompasses both the EU internal and external action, making the promotion and protection of children’s rights a reality.
This strategy is the result of a joint effort with the European Parliament. The Intergroup on children’s rights played a pivotal role in paving the way for this strategy by initiating the European Parliament Resolution of 26 November 2019 on children’s rights on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the most recent European Parliament Resolution of 11 March 2021 on children’s rights in view of the EU Strategy on the rights of the child. These important Resolutions set out key policy priorities and identified key areas of intervention to advance the child rights agenda, which are now included in the strategy.
More than 10,000 children participated to the consultation ahead of the EU Child Strategy and this is a milestone on itself, giving children a chance to have a say in shaping their future.
We commend the commitment of the European Commission to advance the child rights agenda in the EU. It is a far-reaching strategy that really puts children at the centre, covering 6 thematic areas spanning from child participation, fighting child poverty, ending all forms of violence against children, to child-friendly justice, children’s rights in the digital world and the global dimension.
While we are delighted to see this important strategy coming to life, we also want to make sure that we go from words to actions and that children’s rights are finally afforded the priority they deserve in all EU policies and legislation. Children are affected by every legislation and policy that we adopt at European level, in its internal and external action. The EU Child Rights Strategy sets clear priorities for the years to come, yet we regret to see that in the European Commission there is not a single unit entirely dedicated on children’s rights, which will be in charge of implementing the strategy.
There is a need of a more coordinated approach to children and young people’s rights within the European Commission in order to effectively mainstream children’s rights and assess the impact of legislative and non-legislative work on children.
If we really are to bring about a real change in promoting and protecting children’s rights in the EU, it is essential to have a proper child rights unit exclusively devoted to children’s rights both in the European Commission and in the European External Action Service.
The child rights agenda has specific issues and can no longer be treated as a mere appendix of the broader human rights and fundamental rights agenda. Children and children’s rights specificities require a more specific approach and expertise.
In our Resolution of 26 November 2019 on children’s rights on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we called for the appointment of a high-level public figure as the EU representative on children’s rights with explicit and exclusive responsibility on children to serve as a point of reference for all EU matters and policy areas related to children. This high-level representative would ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to the promotion and protection of children’s rights in all internal and external EU policies and action.
This would set the EU in the right course and step up its role as a global actor for the promotion and protection of children’s rights across the world, living up to the ambitions of the EU Child Rights Strategy. A clear and exclusive mandate on children’s rights in the European Commission is much needed to ensure a coordinated approach within the DGs and various services of the European Commission.
As the only EU Institution directly elected by the EU citizens, the European Parliament is by nature the house of all EU citizens, including children. They represent a key constituency not only because they have more at stake when it comes to decisions on their future, but also because they are strongly committed to and understand the values underpinning European integration. Children and young people are indeed in need of special protection as vulnerable group, notwithstanding they are also agents of change.
Children and young people over the last years have shown a tremendous degree of resilience in different settings and have distinguished themselves in many policy areas by driving a veritable progressive and European agenda. We commend the acknowledgement of this role in the Strategy and we particularly welcome the creation of a Children’s Participation Platform gathering children themselves as part of the monitoring and evaluation of the strategy itself.
The European Parliament plays a key role for the protection and promotion of children’s rights across Europe and around the world by mainstreaming children’s rights in all EU policies and legislation.
As Intergroup on Children’s Rights, we stand ready to cooperate with the European Commission and the Member States to ensure a full implementation of this important programmatic document.
Let’s work together to make sure the best interest of the child is always fully respected across the EU and globally and every child is given a clear chance to thrive and reach their full potential, leaving no one behind.
David Lega MEP, Co-Chair
Caterina Chinnici MEP, Co-Chair
Hilde Vautmans MEP, Co-Chair
Antonio Lopez Isturiz White MEP, Vice-Chair, EPP Secretary General
Evin Incir MEP, Vice-Chair
Laurence Farreng MEP, Vice-Chair
Dragos Pislaru MEP, Vice-Chair
Javier Moreno Sanchez MEP, Vice-Chair, Head of the Spanish S&D Delegation
Milan Brglez MEP, Vice-Chair