Eurochild Children’s Council begins its mandate

After several months of preparations and online meetings, the Eurochild Children’s Council (ECC) met in Brussels on 20 November on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day.

The ECC in alphabetical order: Angelina, Ukraine ,15; Anna, Greece 15; Arthur, Finland 16;Dalia, Estonia,15; Ilian, Bulgaria, 16; Jan, Croatia, 13; Kaja, Slovenia, 15; Konstantinos, Greece 16; Sharon  Malta, 13; Simonida, Serbia, 15; Xabier, Spain, 16

11 children and young people from 10 countries who form the first Eurochild Children’s Council began their mandate with a panel debate at the European Parliament under the auspices of President Tajani. They joined UNICEF peers for a debate on the Europe We Want where they posed questions to a panel of policy makers and Members of the European Parliament. 

Following the successful debate, the ECC spent another 3 days in Brussels to prepare their 2-year work plan with Eurochild. The ECC participated in workshops on Eurochild’s current work and mission, and they were introduced to Eurochild’s policy and advocacy work.

Kaja, (15) Slovenia and Anna, (15), Greece, who were involved in the development of the Eurochild Child Participation Strategy, presented the goals to the rest of the children and underlined the role of the group as the first Children’s Council of Eurochild. The Child participation strategy forms the basis for Eurochild’s approach to engaging children and young people in its own work. 

Children advocating for children’s rights at the European Parliament

The ECC did not waste any time on their trip to Brussels. They met over a dozen MEPs to begin their advocacy work! Some of the topics they discussed with the MEPs were: lowering the voting age, teaching human rights in schools, protecting the rights of refugee and migrant children, increase participation of children and young people on national and international level. The MEPs showed great interest in their ideas, and some promised to have further meetings in the future. 

The Eurochild Children’s Council thanks the following Members of the European Parliament for their support and for meeting them this week: MEP Rebecca Harms; MEP Notis Marias; MEP Miapatra Kumpula-Natri; MEP Yana Toom; MEP Georgi Pirinski; MEP Marijana Petir; MEP Tanja Fajon; MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos; MEP Marlene Mizzi; MEP Ivo Vajgl; MEP Antonio Lopez Isturiz. 

In addition, the ECC thanks the President Antonio Tajani, MEP Anna-Maria Corazza-Bildt, MEP Caterina Chinnici and MEP Nathalie Griesbeck for their support! 

Connecting national to European

The ECC will collect ideas and amplify the voices of the National Eurochild Forums (NEFs) which are national groups of children and young people. Estonian Union for Child Welfare, National Network for Children and President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society, which are Eurochild member organisations in Estonia, Bulgaria and Malta, are piloting the first NEFs. The ECC will receive input from them and provide feedback on the three aspects of their work: influencing, strategic planning and organising event. The ECC will also play a key role in internal communication by interacting regularly with the Eurochild Management Board. 

After discussions on outreach and a presentation on online safety, the ECC discussed new ways to communicate with a younger audience and how to use short videos and social media to create campaigns that can reach people outside the so-called ‘Brussels EU bubble’.

Support and expertise on children’s participation

The Child Participation Reference Group, (CPRG) consisting of 11 adults has been setup to coordinate and support the work of the ECC. The new reference group consists of experts from Eurochild membership who have worked with children directly; coordinators of the National Eurochild Forums and Eurochild staff. 

Next steps

The ECC will be giving feedback on Eurochild’s  future strategic plan, preparing for facilitating the next Eurochild General Assembly, working on campaigns around three main topics (Child Poverty, Alternative Care and Children’s Rights and Participation) and finally planning the next biannual Eurochild conference in Croatia.

The ECC and the CPRG will continue their work online as well as in person during several meetings in Brussels and Croatia.