By the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
Almost 25 million children in the EU live in low income households where living conditions are unacceptable and hunger is common. Inadequate education and healthcare threaten their fundamental rights and deprive them of opportunities to escape the poverty cycle, finds the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in its latest report.
“Child poverty has no place in Europe, one of the world’s richest regions,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “We have the means to help end the deplorable conditions facing so many of Europe’s children. Now we need action so the EU and its Member States honour their commitments to uphold the rights of children to give them a better future.”
The report, Combating child poverty: an issue of fundamental rights, highlights how one in four children under 18 are at risk of poverty or social exclusion across the EU. In some Member States, like Romania, it is as high as 1 in 2. While it can affect all children, some groups, like Roma and migrant children fare even worse; a FRA survey revealed over 90% of Roma children in nine Member States experience poverty.
The report underlines how combating child poverty is also a matter of realising their fundamental rights. It also suggests what the EU and its Member States can do to address the issue:
- The EU and its Member States should tighten existing laws and policies to meet legal standards under the UN’s Child Rights Convention and the European Social Charter. This would enable them to tackle child poverty better.
- They should prioritise the protection of vulnerable children and establish a European child guarantee scheme, as proposed by the European Parliament, to ensure each and every child has a decent home, diet, healthcare and education.
- The EU should link funding to Member States to plans and measures to reduce child poverty, inequalities and the social exclusion of children.
- The European Commission should cover child poverty and child rights in its country specific recommendations following its review of Member States’ budgets and policies.
- The European Parliament and EU Council should adopt the European Commission proposal to improve work-life balance for parents and carers to help promote the well-being of children.
- The EU and its Member States should improve the collection of data to help monitor and assess progress towards ending child poverty and social inclusion.
The report also identifies how the European Pillar of Social Rights can help ensure that children have the right to be protected from poverty. Discussions about the direction of EU funding also herald an opportunity to help children escape poverty.
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