Is Europe doing enough to invest in children?

Eurochild releases 2015 Report on the European Semester

In its latest report, Eurochild looks at how the European Semester can deliver better for children. In a situation where more than one child in four is growing up in poverty and social exclusion, Europe needs urgently to prioritise efforts to ensure all children have equal opportunities.

Eurochild’s report brings together the assessments of 25 contributors from 23 EU Member States.  They looked at the extent to which the European Commission ‘Recommendation on Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of disad¬vantage’ (2013) has been implemented in their country and whether the European Semester process is helping or hindering the achievement of positive outcomes for children.

The key message of this report is that Member States need to prioritise investment – of both national and EU resources – in children, in line with national integrated strategies for tackling child poverty and promoting children’s well-being. If efforts are fragmented, piecemeal or not backed up by adequate funding they will be insufficient and ineffective.

Despite the EU policy guidance in place since 2013 in the form of a Recommendation and despite its clear links to EU policy monitoring and funding, there is little evidence of any improvement in the situation of children in Europe. Coherent child-focused strategies are still missing in many Member States, and when such strategies have been put in place, full implementation and financial backing is weak. 

The Semester is supposed to help deliver economic progress in a way that supports social inclusion and environmental sustainability” said Jana Hainsworth, Eurochild Secretary General. “Investing in children is the best way to achieve long-term social and economic goals. Our members offer suggestions for Country Specific Recommendations in 2016 which can better guide Member States in their reforms and public spending plans.”

The report documents political commitments and measures taken to tackle child poverty and promote child well-being across the EU since the adoption of the Investing in Children Recommendation. This overview is contrasted with an assessment of the 2015 National Reform Programmes and the 2015 Country Specific Recommendations.  Eurochild members then offer alternative CSRs based on their knowledge and expertise on what needs to be prioritized to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in their countries.

Finally the report assesses stakeholder engagement in the Semester process and in the monitoring of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and explores how to make better use of EU funding opportunities to stimulate investment in children including the ESIF and the new European Fund for Strategic Investment.