The European Parliament committee for employment and social affairs met in Brussels on 24 September (see agenda) to discuss various matters including social policies in the euro area, and organised a workshop to discuss various challenges today and in the future. One of the topics of the workshop was child poverty, supported by a brief on the European Child Guarantee.
What is this Child Guarantee exactly?
At this point in time, it is not an official EU initiative. It is currently under discussion and its feasibility is being tested through a European study.
It was called for by the European Parliament in its Resolution of 24 November 2015 and confirmed in its Resolution on the ESF+ of 4 April 2019. It is conceived as a mechanism which would focus on the poorest children (and their families) and also the emphasis on access to services. The Guarantee centres on free access for every child in poverty to quality early childhood care and education, education, health, decent housing and adequate nutrition.
The European Parliament brief is divided in 5 sections:
- Introduction with the state of play and data available;
- The profile of the children who would be targeted by this Guarantee;
- Policy approaches: what works? Which includes cash benefits, parental employment and access to ECEC;
- What is the EU approach? Namely policy guidelines to encourage governments to develop holistic policies to support families and children.
- The Way forward, including earmarking a part of the 2021-2027 EU budget to invest in children.
The EU already directly supports citizens financially through different programmes, such as the European Social Fund, the European Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived, Erasmus+ and more. But such a Guarantee, if earmarked in the future EU budget, could further boost national, regional, local government efforts directly in their policies to support families and children in vulnerable situations.
Such a commitment would be a clear signal that Europe is supporting the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which is in its 30th year), the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and get ever closer to supporting Europe’s most vulnerable citizens.