On 24 March, the Commission adopted the first EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. The Commission also launched a proposal for Council Recommendation to establish the European Child Guarantee, to promote equal opportunities for children at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child proposes a series of targeted actions across six thematic areas: democracy, equal opportunities, protection from violence, justice systems, digital environment, and children rights worldwide.
The strategy aims to fight child poverty, promote inclusive and child-friendly societies, and health and education systems, including in in rural, remote and disadvantaged areas.
The European Child guarantee highlights that there is a strong correlation between social exclusion of children and the lack of access to key services. It therefore proposes the Council recommends to Member States that they guarantee access to quality key services for all children: early childhood education and care, education, healthcare, nutrition, and housing.
Access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) is identified as crucial for children’s cognitive, language and social development. Inclusive, non-segregated, quality education should be guaranteed, including through a non-discriminatory treatment.
The Commission also aims to promote the Toolkit for inclusion in early childhood education and care and highlights the need to boost national strategies to speed up de-institutionalisation and the transition towards family- and community-based care services.
EU funding is described as key to support the implementation of EU policies in the Member States. The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) support investments in human capacity and infrastructure development, equipment and access to services in the relevant fields.
The Commission calls on Member States to swiftly adopt the European Child guarantee, by establishing an enabling policy framework to achieve equal access of all children to key social services. Within six months after adoption, governments should submit to the Commission their national action plans.