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Publication date: 17 October 2018

Combating child poverty: an issue of fundamental rights

European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen committed her support to the European Parliament’s initiative to establish a child guarantee scheme in the EU. It aims to ensure that all children living at risk of poverty have access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition.

So, there are signs of hope. And preparation is underway.

The European Commission is running a series of expert workshops, to which FRA contributes. They look into the feasibility and requirements for creating a child guarantee focusing at this stage on the EU’s most disadvantaged children.

These include children with disabilities, children in institutions, children from a migrant background and children in precarious family situations.

Poverty affects many children across the EU. The Commission’s preparatory work will also analyse how a child guarantee scheme could work for all children living at risk of poverty in the EU.

Child poverty should also be considered throughout all phases of the EU’s framework for coordinating its economic policies, as part of the so-called European Semester. This is where national spending and budgets, including the use of EU funds, are discussed.

However, children in vulnerable situations are in special, and urgent need, for support.

For example, a FRA survey revealed over 90% of Roma children in nine Member States experience poverty. They 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, as a FRA study on child poverty shows.

For the almost 25 million children in the EU at risk of poverty, Europe needs to build on the sprigs of hope that are starting to emerge, and put a stop to widespread child poverty.