Belgian Presidency’s Conference on the European Child Guarantee

Eurochild commends the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union for organising the ‘’European Child Guarantee: from engagement to reality’’ conference, which provided a forum for exchange on promoting the rights of children in vulnerable situations.

On the 2nd and 3rd of May, the Belgian Presidency hosted an event on the European Child Guarantee, the EU initiative designed to combat poverty and social exclusion by guaranteeing access to key services for children in vulnerable situations. At a time when Member States are reporting on the implementation of the European Child Guarantee, this conference brought together a wide range of stakeholders, including child rights champions at the EU and national level and civil society organisations. Her Majesty, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, also attended the opening of the conference.

While Karine Lalieux, the Belgian Minister for Social Integration and Poverty Alleviation, inaugurated the event, Andriana Sukova, Director-General (acting) DG EMPL, and Katarina Ivanković Knežević, Deputy Director-General of the Social Rights and Inclusion (EMPL.D) unit at DG EMPL offered an overview of the work of the Commission in developing this initiative, as well as the progress made by the Member States. MEP Dragoș Pîslaru, Chair of the EMPL Committee on the Child Guarantee, highlighted the importance of sustained funding and horizontal and vertical coordination, as well as the role of civil society. The Child Guarantee Coordinators exchanged best practices and challenges for implementing the Child Guarantee. The discussion also featured participation from representatives from both federal and regional governments of Belgium, UNICEF, Eurofound, academia, and our member ONE. The Report ‘’Our Rights. Our Future. The Europe We Want.’’, was also presented. This report resulted from a consultation with almost 10,000 children from all over Europe about the issues that matter most to them.

The first session of the conference included a statement prepared by the Alliance on Investing in Children members, delivered by Sabine Saliba, Eurochild Secretary General, and Willy Bergogne, Director of Save the Children Europe. The statement emphasised the importance of investing in children and families and underscored that such investments are not just a moral imperative but yield significant societal and economic benefits. The statement included recommendations for EU decision-makers on breakinging the cycle of intergenerational poverty and social exclusion.

Alongside this event, Eurochild and other members of the European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community-based care (EEG), published a statement on the role of the Child Guarantee in preventing family separation and supporting family support services. The Child Guarantee not only addresses the root causes of child separation and institutionalisation, but children in alternative care are prioritised as target groups.

The conference provided a platform for all stakeholders to share observations and best practices on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Ally Dunhill, Eurochild’s Director of Policy, Advocacy and Communications presented the Report ‘’Children’s Rights: Political will or won’t’’ and the Sub-report on Early Childhood Development and Early Childhood Education and Care. Zuzana Konradova, EU Affairs Coordinator at Eurochild, reported on the session dedicated to child participation, stressing the importance of including children's voices in decision-making processes. In addition, Eurochild members from Spain and Portugal have also contributed to the session’s discussions.

We commend the Belgian Presidency for convening this event, which stands as a testament to the ongoing commitment across EU presidencies to advance children's rights. These exchanges, marked by the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, are crucial in implementing, monitoring, and supporting the European Child Guarantee. We also appreciate the continuity of the good practice to involve civil society in such an important event.

More pictures from the event here.

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