On 14 June the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO)  unanimously adopted the European Commission’s proposal on establishing a European Child Guarantee (see EURoma’s news item). The European Child Guarantee aims to prevent and combat child poverty and social exclusion and to foster equal opportunities for children in need (i.e. persons under the age of 18 at risk of poverty or social exclusion), following an integrated and multidimensional approach. It pays particular attention to children with a minority racial or ethnic background (particularly Roma) as part of the ‘children in need’ target group.

The Recommendation has been adopted unanimously and only 2.5 months after the Commission presented its proposal, which shows the importance granted to the fight against child poverty and social exclusion in the EU. We trust that this renewed EU’s commitment contributes to the respect of the rights of the 18 million children at risk of poverty or social exclusion across the EU, many of them Roma, a number that may be increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said: “I congratulate the Portuguese Presidency and all the Member States on reaching an agreement in record time on the European Child Guarantee, which will make essential services free or affordable to children in need. A child’s background should not dictate the course of the rest of their lives. That’s where we have to step in as policy-makers, to open up doors so that nothing is beyond their reach.”

According to Ana Mendes Godinho, Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal: “Our children are our future. The European Pillar of Social Rights action plan has set an ambitious target of reducing by five million by 2030 the number of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and this was reinforced at the Porto Social Summit. The European Child Guarantee is a major step forward towards this goal. We need concerted action to make sure we tackle disadvantage and exclusion during our children’s early years, to guarantee a brighter future for their adult life.”

About the European Child Guarantee

The European Child Guarantee is the first EU-level policy instrument which aims to address disadvantage and exclusion in childhood, which often lead to disadvantage in adult life, with a view to breaking this way the cycle of disadvantage, poverty and social exclusion across generations that children in need face.

To this end, it provides concrete guidance to authorities in Member States on guaranteeing the effective and non-discriminatory access for these children to a set of key services, like education, healthcare, housing and healthy nutrition, on an equal footing with their peers.

It is a major step to achieve the target set in the  European Pillar of Social Rights action plan to reduce by five million by 2030 the number of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, which was reinforced at the Porto Social Summit.

Financial resources

Allocating adequate EU resources for the implementation of the European Child Guarantee and further supportive measures is not only essential but also part of the EU Funds Regulations, notably European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). Within the ESF+, in addition to its general support to initiatives that promote social inclusion, fight poverty and investment in people, for the 2021-2027 financing period, Member States that have a rate of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion higher than the EU average (in 2017-2019) will have to earmark 5% of the fund for combatting child poverty or social exclusion, while other Member States will be required to earmark an appropriate amount.

In accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and InvestEU will also support investment in enabling infrastructure, such as social housing and early childhood education and care facilities, as well as equipment and access to quality and mainstream services.

As part of the Recovery Plan for Europe and the ‘Next Generation EU’ instrument, the Recovery and Resilience Facility offers additional Union funding for reforms, investment and policies for the next generation, children and the youth, such as education and skills, to be included in national recovery and resilience plans.

The Technical Support Instrument can support Member States in designing and implementing structural reforms in the areas of education, social services, justice and health, including cross-sectoral reforms tackling child poverty and social exclusion.

Next steps

Member states should nominate a National Child Guarantee Coordinator, equipped with adequate resources and mandate enabling the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Recommendation.

They should also submit to the Commission, within nine months from the adoption of the Recommendation, an action plan covering the period until 2030, to implement this Recommendation, taking into account national, regional and local circumstances as well as existing policy actions and measures to support children in need.

Member States are recommended to involve relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations promoting children’s rights.

Member states should report to the Commission on the progress in implementing this recommendation every two years.

The European Commission is tasked with reviewing the progress made and reporting to the Council five years after the adoption of the regulation.

Further information

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