Jari Andersson, chair of Sastamala City Council (FI/EPP), has drafted an opinion urging the EU Member States to accelerate implementation of the EU strategy on the rights of the child and the European Child Guarantee. Mr Andersson's opinion was adopted at the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on Tuesday 12 October. The opinion underlines that regions and municipalities play an important role in combating child poverty and exploitation and preventing exclusion.
The rapporteur regretted that it had not been possible to reach agreement on the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child at the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 7 October. Certain Member States had refused to approve the Commission proposal because they would have liked to remove all references to the rights of LGBTIQ children and young people.
Mr Andersson said: "It is a shame that such points of contention have delayed the adoption and implementation of the strategy. We believe that every child – regardless of race and ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, nationality, residence or immigration status, gender and sexual orientation – should have the right to an adequate standard of living, quality education and equal opportunities from the earliest stage of life. Strengthening the socio-economic inclusion of children is essential to reduce poverty and disadvantage between generations".
Earlier this year the Council adopted a recommendation on a European Child Guarantee, designed to safeguard the right of all people under the age of 18 to education, including early years education, healthcare, adequate nutrition and decent housing. The European Committee of the Regions, representing cities and regions in EU decision-making, stresses that local and regional authorities play an important role in providing basic services and combating poverty, and that therefore the Commission and the Member States must ensure that all levels of government are involved in implementing the Child Guarantee.
The CoR opinion calls for specific measures to ensure access to quality education, including for children from more disadvantaged families. The European Commission and the Member States are urged to step up cooperation with local and regional authorities and to ensure that initiatives supporting the objectives of the EU strategy on the rights of the child and the European Child Guarantee are properly funded, particularly through the European Social Fund (ESR+).
In the rapporteur's words: "We recommend that at least 5% of ESF+ funding under shared management be earmarked for supporting projects under the European Child Guarantee. The aim should be to create a comprehensive investment ecosystem for European children based on the Child Guarantee, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Structural Funds and national resources. This is the best way to ensure the provision of quality services for every single child".
In its opinion the CoR also stresses the need to ensure that children are able to participate in decisions affecting their lives and to be heard in a way that is appropriate to their age and maturity. The specific rights of children should also be safeguarded in the legal system, and detention during migration procedures should only be used as a last resort in exceptional cases.
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