Following the European Commission’s publishing of a comprehensive and ambitious Strategy earlier this year, a meeting of EU Member States’ ministers failed to agree on Council conclusions. In this joint statement, child rights organizations express their disappointment and call on all EU Member States’ child rights commitments.
Children in the EU—and around the world—need and deserve a strong political commitment to uphold and protect their rights. Following the launch of the ambitious EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child by the European Commission, child rights advocates express their deep disappointment and alarm at Member States’ recent failure to reach agreement on a set of Council Conclusions.
The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, one of the key flagship initiatives that aims to ensure all children have equal rights and opportunities, has been warmly welcomed by children’s rights advocates. The meaningful involvement of children, young people and civil society organizations in the design of the strategy is a particularly encouraging precedent.
It is therefore deeply regrettable that European Member States have failed, on October 7, 2021, to adopt Council Conclusions in support of the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, in spite of their international and EU obligations to uphold children’s rights*. In line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), the EU treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union—to which all EU Member States are bound—all children are entitled to the protection of their rights without reservation or any form of discrimination.
This comes at a time when so many children are exposed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic—we are witnessing an alarming rise in child poverty, violence, exploitation and abuse. The gap in access to essential services such as education, healthcare, housing, food and social protection has been widening globally. In this global context, it is not only disheartening, but utterly incomprehensible that EU Member States are unable to unanimously agree to put children’s rights at the heart of EU action.
We cannot accept that children are being left hostages to political infighting. We urgently call on the Council of the EU to express a strong and clear commitment to the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. In light of all EU Member States’ commitments and obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, we call on them to comprehensively implement the Strategy in national policies and practices and to champion the rights of all children, both within the EU and around the world.
*All 27 EU Member States are signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
To see the full statement, including the list of organizations endorsing the statement, click here.