Rights of the Child

Europe and the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2014. Despite considerable progress in those 25 years, some old challenges remain and new ones have arisen. The latest data show that 27.6 % of children in Europe – more than 26 million – are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Many families with children have difficulties paying for their rent or mortgage, heating, school materials and even food. The legal protection of child victims of violence or sexual abuse and children without parental care was significantly reinforced and relevant policies were developed.

EU Member States have, however, allocated insufficient resources to child protection services. The EU and its Member States are also establishing judicial safeguards for children involved in justice proceedings. Yet, their practical implementation in the day-to-day experiences of children at court remains unconvincing.

FRA conclusions

Child poverty and social exclusion rates have remained entrenched at high levels in recent years.

  • To address this, at its 2015 mid-term review of the EU 2020 Strategy, the EU should consider adopting a specific child poverty target. The European Semester process could monitor progress towards achieving this target, recommending evidence-based measures to tackle child poverty.

The 2014–2020 European Structural and Investment Funds open a new avenue to address well-being and poverty for all children.

  • The new ESIF contain the legal obligation to ensure that operational programmes funded by these funds fulfil the requirement to respect the principles of gender equality, non-discrimination, the rights of persons with disabilities and Roma inclusion.
  • EU Member States, with the engagement of civil society, should make better use of EU funds to ensure the provision of quality services for children, using the comprehensive approach to child well-being established in the European Commission’s recommendation on investing in children. Specifically, efforts should continue to promote the transition from institutional care to family- and community-based care, particularly for children with disabilities. As children suffer disproportionately from poverty, effective monitoring of the use of structural funds to achieve the poverty reduction target of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including child specific actions and the implementation of ex ante conditionalities, is key to enhancing children’s well-being and enjoyment of their fundamental rights.

In 2014, the level of coordination between central governments and municipalities remains insufficient in the context of decentralised child protection systems.

  • This also affects the way that services are provided in the different municipalities and by different service providers.
  • EU Member States are encouraged to enhance coordination mechanisms and develop quality standards and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with children’s rights by public and private service providers.

In 2014 child-friendly justice was often a well-recognised legal concept in national legal systems, but could be applied more in practice.

  • Protection measures established in the Victims’ Directive, such as video recording of child victims’ statements, although a legal possibility in most EU Member States, are not widely used.
  • EU Member States should make sure that the Victims’ Directive, which has a transposition deadline of November 2015, is properly transposed and implemented. Moreover, the approval of a new directive on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings will be a step forward in ensuring that all children, including those that have violated the law, are adequately treated by the justice system.

Professionals working with children greatly benefit from continuous support and capacity building.

  • All relevant professionals should take a consistent and rights-compliant approach in their work with children and their families. Competent authorities are thus encouraged to provide specific guidance, training and practical protocols. The EU Guidance on integrated child protection systems is expected to facilitate this process.