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“Well done is better than well said”! A new EU General strategy on the rights of the child

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"We need a strategy that is inclusive of all children and that supports children in vulnerable situations and we need a strategy that promotes and supports our right to participate in decisions that affect us. Because nothing that is decided for children should be decided without children. It’s time to normalise child participation". (Children’s conclusions, 13th European Forum on the rights of the child, 2020).

BRUSSELS- Starting from today, the European Union has a general strategy on the rights of the child and the Commission has presented a proposal for a Recommendation to establish a "European guarantee for children" to "promote equal opportunities for children at risk of poverty or of social exclusion ". 

At the center of attention are the nearly 18 million minors in the EU (22.2% of minors) who in 2019 lived in families at risk of poverty or social exclusion, caught in an "intergenerational cycle of disadvantage", with deep and long-term effects that the European guarantee for children intends to break, promoting equal opportunities, guaranteeing access to a series of essencial services for those under 18 at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The EU strategy moves along six coordinates: minors as agents of change in democratic life; the right of minors to realize their full potential regardless of their social background; the right of minors to be free from violence; the right of minors to child-friendly justice; the right of minors to navigate safely in the digital environment and to take advantage of its opportunities and finally "the rights of minors in the world" and the EU as an advocate for their protection, promotion and respect. For each area, the Commission has indicated methods of action. Education, and education, nutrition, health care, adequate housing are the areas on which States will have to intervene.

In the framework of the EU actions, the Commission highlights the situation of children with migration background. In 2019, 12% of global international migrants (or 33 million) were children. Children in migration, including child refugees, are very often exposed to risks of abuse and have suffered from extreme forms of violence. Consequently, migrant children often suffer from mental health problems from situations experienced in the country of origin, on the migratory route, from uncertainty or degrading treatment in the country of arrival.

With this regard, the Commission ensures that the new rules coming from the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, once adopted, will implement and reinforce EU law safeguards and protection standards for migrant children: to speed up the appointment of representatives for unaccompanied children; to ensure the resources to support their special needs, including their transition to adulthood and independent living; to offer them adequate accommodation and assistance, including legal assistance, throughout the procedures.

As remarked in the conclusion, "we all have the responsibility to listen to children and to act now", the Commission says citing the words expressed by one of the members of the Eurochild Children’s Council: “Well done is better than well said”!