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Local and regional leaders mobilise to better protect children against violence and poverty  

​Improving the well-being of children and protecting them from violence, poverty and social exclusion were the main focus of the meeting of the Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC), held in Ancona (Italy) on 22 February. The meeting was followed by a high-level conference on regional innovation as a key driver of the EU's green and digital transition, attended by local and regional authorities, representatives of the Italian national government and of the European Commission.

The causes of child poverty differ according to local specificities, underlined SEDEC members in a draft opinion adopted on 22 February, nearly three years after the establishment of a European Child Guarantee by the European Union. Cities and regions' representatives stressed the need to implement local and regional child guarantee action plans that address territorial specificities ensuring free education, childcare, school canteens and healthcare for the most vulnerable children. It is essential to strengthen the role of local authorities guaranteeing them technical assistance and direct access to European funds for children, regions and cities underlined. 

Rapporteur Enzo Lattuca (IT/PES), President of the Province of Forlì-Cesena and Mayor of Cesena, said: "We have the ambition to extend the approach that inspires the Child Guarantee and raise the standards for all European minors. We cannot limit ourselves to guaranteeing access to primary goods or essential levels for the most disadvantaged children. We must allow all children to experience a better future than what we guarantee today, increasing opportunities in every sector, from early childhood care to school and sport. I am happy that nobody voted against this opinion in today's meeting, because on childhood we have to find shared answers and unite the sensitivities of the different political forces."

In a separate draft opinion adopted at the meeting, SEDEC members highlighted the crucial role of local and regional authorities in establishing local child protection systems. These initiatives can promote a community culture of zero tolerance towards any form of violence against children, as well as protect them from poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion.

Rapporteur Peter Kaiser (AT/PES), President of the Regional Government of Carinthia, underlined that "'children are our future' should not be an empty phrase. Politics owes our children the best they can give at local, regional, national and European level. Our common goal must be to enable the youngest European to grow up safely and without fear. Their demands for being listened and respected, for support and information, for protection and guidance must be met with open ears and hearts. To this end, the European Commission must also include regions in its upcoming initiatives, where politics plays a crucial role when it comes to child protection, particularly in cooperation with social institutions and the education sector."

Skills and talent mobility

Local and regional leaders welcomed the European Commission's proposal on the Skills and Mobility Package which aims to make the EU more attractive to global talents and facilitate their mobility. With the draft opinion adopted at the meeting, SEDEC members called for partnerships between local and regional authorities, centres of excellence, social partners and SMEs to create talent mobility networks that can provide high-quality training opportunities.

Rapporteur François Decoster (FR/renew E.), Member of the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France, stated: "Talent and skills mobility within the EU is crucial for local and regional development, driving innovation, and creating opportunities for businesses to thrive. In the pursuit of a Europe of mobility, I focus on combatting hurdles for mobility, leveraging multilingualism to increase mobility and suggesting the establishment of macro-regional mobility clusters. Specifically for vocational education and training (VET) and apprentices, such clusters would improve access to information, foster trust, simplify learner pathways within European VET training, and ultimately increase learner mobility."

The three draft opinions are scheduled for final adoption at the CoR plenary in April.

SEDEC members also appointed Emil Boc (RO/EPP), mayor of Cluj-Napoca, as rapporteur for the opinion on “Ethical Artificial Intelligence and access to supercomputing for start-ups".

High-level conference on place-based innovation

On 23 February, the CoR and the Marche Region organised a high-level conference which explored best practices to support the creation of innovation ecosystems at local and regional level, in order to foster green and digital transition. The event took place less than one month after the adoption by unanimity of the CoR opinion drafted by Andrea Putzu (IT/ECR), member of the Regional Council of Marche, which was focussed on the same topic. The conference was attended – among the others – by the President of the Marche Region Francesco Acquaroli, the Italian minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy Adolfo Urso (online) and Donatella Tesei (IT/ECR), President of the Umbria Region.


European Child Guarantee: The European Council adopted a Recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee in June 2021. It aims to prevent and combat social exclusion by guaranteeing children in need effective access to key services, namely education, healthcare, and housing.

Integrated Child Protection Systems: The European Commission plans to adopt a recommendation on integrated child protection systems on the first quarter 2024. The initiative aims to encourage all relevant authorities and services to work together in a holistic way to protecting children.

Skills and talent mobility: The talent mobility package is a set of proposals from the European Commission, which puts the focusing on helping people get the right skills for quality jobs and supporting companies in addressing skill shortages in Europe.

High-level conference on place-based innovation: At the plenary session on 31 January, the European Committee of the Regions adopted an opinion on Towards an integrated EU policy approach to support place-based innovation for the green and digital transition by rapporteur Andrea Putzu (IT/ECR), Member of the Regional Council of Marche. Press release.

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