Children and Youth
Principle 11 of the European Pillar of Social Rights refers to the care and support of children: „Children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. Children have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities.“
To implement this principle, the European Commission‘s European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, published in 2021, sets as one of its three key targets to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million people, including at least five million children, by 2030.
The focus on children is intended to open up new opportunities for them directly and to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and prevent poverty situations from becoming entrenched in childhood and continuing in adult life. In this context, the implementation of the Council Recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee, adopted by the EU Member States on 14 June 2021, plays an important role.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared 2022 the European Year of the Youth.
Youth Policy in the EU
Climate change, technological and demographic trends, political instability and Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine are changing society and democratic interactions. In our interconnected world, many young people are concerned with these global issues and are looking for solutions for a sustainable society. At the same time, too little attention and consideration are given to young people at the political level. With youth policy initiatives like the European Year of Youth, the European Union aims to involve young people and their priorities more in policymaking and to open up new opportunities for them.
European Child Guarantee to Combat Child PovertyChild poverty is widespread in Europe, even in economically strong countries. One in four children in the European Union is at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities even further. In March 2021, the European Commission adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, which aims to reduce the number of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the European Union by at least five million by 2030. To achieve this, an integrated approach is needed that focuses on the causes of poverty and social exclusion, and that breaks the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
On 14 June 2021, the EU Member States adopted a Council recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee. Its aim is to prevent and combat the social exclusion of children in need by guaranteeing access to a set of key services, e.g. access to early childhood education and care, education, healthcare or healthy nutrition and adequate housing. The European Commission has called on the EU Member States to establish a national action plan covering the period until 2030 to implement the European Child Guarantee.
Children’s Rights in the Digital SpaceSince the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, society has changed in many ways. Digitalisation creates the need to extend the protection of children and their rights to the digital space. This goal has been increasingly pursued in recent years at the international, European and national level. In March 2021 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published a general comment on children’s rights in the digital environment. The comment is intended to demonstrate the relevance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the digital space as well as to support states in protecting and fulfilling children’s rights in the digital environment. The comment was preceded by a two-year consultation in which more than 700 children participated.
Child Poverty and Social ExclusionThe topic of child poverty ranges high on the political agenda of many European states. However, despite sometimes far-reaching efforts on part of the state, children are affected by poverty more often than the general population. The financial support for children and families varies between European states regarding the amount of the benefit. Often universal benefits stand next to targeted benefits.
Besides the question what children and their families need in addition to financial benefits, another important question is how to generate an easy access to any form of benefits for children and their families. Against the background of the processes initiated at EU-level and national level, the Observatory shows different approaches to tackle child poverty and social exclusion and promotes the Europe-wide exchange.