The EU Child Strategy: made for children by children
“Children’s rights are human rights.” These are the opening words of the first comprehensive proposal presented by the European Commission last Wednesday. The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child is complemented with a proposal for a Council Recommendation establishing a European Child guarantee to help tackle inequalities for children at risk of poverty and social exclusion. What makes it different from previous actions? The Strategy was made for children, with children – including the views of over 10,000 boys and girls, marking the beginning of their participation in the EU decision-making process. It is also the first Child Strategy to follow the European legislative process: no more recommendations, now it is time for action.
COVID-19, the EU and children
The pandemic has changed and shaped the European Commission’s agenda and priorities – this was no different for the EU Child Strategy. For children, the pandemic has created new challenges and inequalities and aggravated already existing ones, such as domestic and online violence, cyberbullying, or the lack of access to education and daily meals normally provided by their schools. The Strategy was adapted to include the old, new, and exacerbated challenges learned during the pandemic, proving to have a clear intention to protect the youngest European generations. However, it is still surprising that the EU had to wait until 2021 to see its first common Child Rights Strategy, putting children at the center of the Social Pillar and offering them a space in the democratic and accountability process from an early age. It looks like they have come to realize that they are the next generation of Europeans that will hold them accountable.
Six pillars to start action
The pandemic has made clear the need to fight inequalities among children, and to provide them with a safe digital environment. These targets have been included in the main six areas that will shape the priorities of the EU and its Member States until 2024:
- Empowering children to be active citizens and participate in democratic life.
- Fighting poverty and social exclusion: children’s right to realize their full potential no matter their social background.
- Helping children grow free from violence: combating it and ensuring child protection.
- Creating a child-friendly justice: a judicial system that upholds the rights and needs of children.
- Navigating the digital environment in a safe way and harness its opportunities.
- Supporting, empowering, and protecting children globally.
Now, it is turn for the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to endorse the strategy, and for the Member States to implement it. The duty to protect the rights and the safety of children in the EU falls upon all political, institutional, and individual levels.
At Vinces, we believe that part of our mission entails defending collectives who might not have the resources to represent their own interests. Since our foundation, we have focused on children-related causes, being the most vulnerable group in society. In that sense, in relation to minors whose parents have lost custody, we work to promote policies that prioritizes foster families over residential care facilities since we understand that living in a family is an essential element in the development of a person.