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Publication date:20 November 2017

Mapping minimum age requirements concerning the rights of the child in the EU

International treaties, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, European Union (EU) secondary law and national legislation provide a number of rights to citizens. The maps and tables presented show the various patterns concerning age requirements for children to acquire rights in the EU. They also identify inconsistencies, protection gaps and restrictions deriving from different age thresholds. The aim is to assist EU Member States in addressing these issues and to facilitate the EU in exercising its competence to support and coordinate Member States’ actions related to children and youth.


FRA is mapping national laws across EU governing age requirements linked to the child rights of protection and participation. The areas covered are: the legal definition of a child; political participation; social rights and welfare; education; health and medical treatment; employment; child care and child protection; access to justice (including juvenile justice); children in the digital world; asylum and migration.


The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights requires the EU to take children's views into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity. However, FRA research has shown that the way children are recognised as rights holders differs. Age requirements can also be arbitrary and inconsistent, potentially limiting child rights. For example, the age at which children can get married, vote, engage with the criminal justice system or access complaints mechanisms varies across and even within jurisdictions.

The research findings will help EU institutions and Member States shape laws or policies when developing a more integrated approach in respect to minimum age requirements for child participation across the areas covered.


FRA will build on its existing research on child protection systems and child-friendly justice as well as European Commission research into children’s involvement in judicial proceedings and on child participation. It will carry out desk research in 28 EU Member States through its research network, FRANET. It will collect data on the legal capacity of children in various legal proceedings. It will also look into legal provisions in national civil, criminal and administrative and sectorial laws and regulations that have age requirements for certain rights and protection entitlements. Comparative analysis will identify inconsistencies, protection gaps and restrictions through the application of different age requirements for children.