Put children at the heart of policy making, says network of children’s organisations
We, as members of Eurochild - a network of over 130 child rights organisations met today to express concern over the lack of political will in Europe to put children at the heart of policy making. The growing divide between commitments made to realise children’s rights, and the inaction of EU institutions is a sign of short termism and lack of political vision.
We addressed the challenges impacting children’s lives across the EU, ranging from cuts in education, health, social assistance, rising discrimination and failure to protect migrant and refugee children. Access to quality early childhood care and education is still far from being a reality. More than 1 in 5 children (over 20%) in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Latvia are living in overcrowded and unsafe houses. (Eurostat, 2013). Additionally, the demand on our members’ services are increasing while state funding has plummeted. We are concerned that insufficient attention is given to quality of service provision, preventing children from growing up to their full potential.
With 26.5 million children in the EU living at risk of poverty or social exclusion, we are worried that a return to the ‘jobs and growth paradigm’ can further exacerbate social inequalities and hamper not just our present but the future of our societies.
One year after the European Parliament elections and six months after the new European Commission took office, we are disheartened by the lack of willingness of the new European Commission to invest in children, as is clear from the absence of children from the ’10 priorities’ of the European Commission. There is a weakening commitment to poverty reduction and social inclusion overall, and the lack of implementation of the European Commission Recommendation on Investing in Children, the best possible compilation of actions for EU Member States to tackle child poverty and social exclusion and promote well-being, raises alarm bells. There is also a lot of uncertainty over what will succeed the 2011 EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child, which is crucial to support EU Member States to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We call on the European institutions and governments for sustained efforts in balancing social and economic goals. We believe that the only way to build inclusive, safe and prosperous societies is through prioritising investment in children and families – a ‘children-first’ model, addressing all facets of childhood including, but not limited to, education from early childhood, health, family income, active participation and resourcing local communities, in a more coordinated way. We invite the European institutions to not lose sight of its future and those that represent it.
Read the newly released Eurochild Annual Report 2014 here.
Eurochild advocates for children’s rights and well-being to be at the heart of policymaking. We are a network of organisations working with and for children throughout Europe, striving for a society that respects the rights of children. We influence policies, build internal capacities, facilitate mutual learning and exchange practice and research. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the foundation of all our work.