Eurochild’s Response to the 2023 Annual Sustainable Growth Survey
The European Semester is an annual cycle of economic and fiscal policy coordination that sets the framework for the European Commission’s policy work for the upcoming year. As part of the European Semester, the Commission also establishes an Annual Sustainable Growth Survey outlining the policy agenda for the forthcoming months.
Presented on 22 November, this year’s survey acknowledges the increasing financial struggles for vulnerable households but fails to address the peculiar position of children specifically, as they are only mentioned in the context of families.
As a result of the energy crisis, the European Commission intends to significantly support vulnerable households in various exceptional policy initiatives. Eurochild welcomes the intention to redirect the solidarity contributions on excess profits to vulnerable households, while strengthening the energy supply at affordable prices. Moreover, we applaud the suggestion of a more flexible use of the cohesion policy funds allocations to support vulnerable households, as the vast majority of supporting measures have not been targeted directly to the people who need it the most. That is why Eurochild supports the proposal to emphasise the needs of vulnerable households impacted by the soaring energy prices and costs of living, including families with children.
The European Commission rightfully mentions the challenges in relation to the employment of young people as well as other groups of people in disadvantaged circumstances.
As to education, a new focus has to be put on the equity and quality of education to facilitate the learning outcomes of disadvantaged children and young people who were impacted significantly by the pandemic. We also welcome the Commission’s intention to invest in quality, accessible, and affordable early childhood education and care to ensure the best facilities to support the development of every child. Eurochild seconds the alarming signals in regard to teaching shortages at all education levels. Increasing the attractiveness of the teaching profession is essential to equip more children, young people, and lifelong learners with the necessary skills for the labour market. Particularly in light of a continuously high rate of young people not in education, employment, or training.
Unfortunately, the issue of mental health for children and young people is not addressed in the survey. Despite children’s mental health worsening all over Europe in the last few years, the European Commission fails to bring forward concrete measures to tackle the mental wellbeing of children and young people.
All in all, the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey rightfully highlights the necessity to focus moreon vulnerable households. Still, it needs to present concrete strategies directed at children.
Eurochild will continue to monitor and influence the European Semester cycle as the main European Union’s framework for coordinating and monitoring economic and social policies.