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The European Child Guarantee finally needs to be implemented

European Union member states should do more to guarantee basic rights to children, and the European Commission should consider establishing a European Authority for Children, argue Dragoș Pîslaru and Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová.

Dragoș Pîslaru is the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and member of the liberal political group Renew Europe. Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová is the Renew Europe coordinator of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

Children are our future. Protecting children’s rights, investing in our continent’s young generation, and promoting an ambitious implementation of the European Child Guarantee is imperative for everyone.

Through last Thursday’s vote in the European Parliament on a follow up motion for resolution on the Child Guarantee, we call for a strong political commitment to profoundly improve the lives of millions of European children in need.

Let us not forget that the European Union is one of the richest regions in the world. We must ensure that every citizen, including children, gets the tools to create their own opportunities in life, no matter where they are born.

It is now two years since the European Council adopted its recommendation of the European Child Guarantee. To this date, two member states, Austria and Latvia, have still not submitted their national action plans, and the quality of the plans submitted differs a lot across countries.

In 2021, all member states committed to guaranteeing free and effective access to key services for needy children. Among them are that every child should be able to enjoy at least one warm meal per day, healthy nutrition, healthcare, the right to have an adequate place to call home, as well as quality education, early childhood education and care.

For most of us, these basic rights are taken for granted. But over 5 million children within the EU are still waiting to be lifted out of poverty.

There is no other way forward. Investing in children and ensuring that every single child within our Union can enjoy all the basic rights within the Child Guarantee is undebatable and fundamental for the Union’s competitiveness, prosperity and socio-economic cohesion.

Investing in the young generations is a strategic investment for our future and never a cost. We must tirelessly continue fighting against child poverty and social exclusion and do our utmost to ensure that the Child Guarantee is found among the top priorities on the EU and national policy agenda.

We call on the member states to live up to their commitments from 2021.

Every member state must include measurable objectives and concrete targets and do their utmost to reach them, mainly targeting children in greatest need. To do so, the European Parliament insists on the importance of innovative and integrated services providing support coherently, taking a life cycle and community-based approach that is tailor-made to an individual’s characteristics.

We also call for better synergies between the European Child Guarantee and other EU instruments and funds. The need to strengthen the implementing, monitoring and evaluation framework by establishing a stronger European governance is pressing.

We, therefore, call for an impact assessment on the possibility of establishing a European Authority for Children, which we are convinced would be a much-needed cornerstone in ensuring the protection of all children’s rights and securing access to basic services for vulnerable children.

Every child living in poverty or on the brink of poverty is a catastrophe both for the child, its family and society. The sooner we improve and advance their living conditions and equip them with the security, opportunities and skills they need, the brighter the future for our next generations will be. It is high time to unleash every child’s full potential.