On 24th of March, the European Union adopted a new EU policy framework to ensure the protection of rights of all children and secure their access to basic services.
Strategy on the rights of the child
The strategy establishes a new policy framework on children’s rights for the EU. It proposes a series of targeted actions across six thematic areas, each one defining the priorities for EU action in the coming years. The thematic areas are:
- Participation in political and democratic life
- Socio-economic inclusion, health and education
- Combating violence against children and ensuring child protection
- Child-friendly justice
- Digital and information society
- The global dimension
Each area includes key actions to be taken by the European Commission, and recommendations for EU Member States.
European Child Guarantee
The European Child Guarantee aims at breaking this cycle. It provides guidance and means for Member States to support children in need, i.e. persons under the age of 18 at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
Under the Guarantee, Member States of the EU should guarantee:
- Free and effective access to children in need to early childhood education and care, education and school-based activities, healthcare, and at least one healthy meal each school day
- Effective access for children in need to healthy nutrition and adequate housing
Member States can draw on EU funding to support their actions under the Child Guarantee, in particular from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and Next Generation EU.
The European Child Guarantee complements the second theme of the Strategy on the Rights of the Child. As it puts Principle 11 of the European Pillar of Social Rights on “Childcare and support to children” into action, the Guarantee is therefore a key deliverable of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan which sets out concrete initiatives to turn the European Pillar of Social Rights into reality.
Inclusion of children with disabilities
The Strategy explains that it will be supported by strengthening the mainstreaming of children’s rights across all relevant EU policies and that the specific needs of certain groups of children, including those facing intersecting forms of discrimination, are duly taken into account. It specifically refers to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In relation to children with disabilities, the European Commission commits to:
- Ensure the complementarity with the European Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities to respond to the needs of children with disabilities and provide better access to mainstream services and independent living.
- Promote the development and use of accessible ICT and assistive technologies for children with disabilities such as speech recognition, closed captioning and others including in Commission’s conferences and events.
- Ensure the full implementation of the European Accessibility Act.
The text of the Strategy also refers to several areas mentioning children with disabilities without concretely explaining what measures will be developed and/or how they will include children with disabilities. This includes:
- Access to mental and physical health of children with disabilities
- Access to inclusive, non-segregated, quality education (through nondiscriminatory treatment), including early childhood education and care and combatting early drop out
- Child-friendly and accessible justice
- Transition from institution-based to quality family and community-based care in third countries and humanitarian setting