The Conclusions adopted by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Affairs Council on Combatting Poverty and Social Exclusion: An integrated approach, are a welcome step in addressing child poverty and promoting children’s well-being. The Alliance for Investing in Children appreciates the initiative of the Dutch Presidency to address the persistence of child poverty in Europe and encourages the EU institutions and Member States to do more to reverse this disturbing trend which is blighting the lives of younger generations in Europe.

Over the past years, the European Union has registered a dramatic increase in inequality across and within Member States, with 5% of households in the EU retaining 37% of the total wealth and with almost a quarter of EU citizens at risk of poverty.[1] The picture looks even gloomier if we consider that more than one in four children is at risk of poverty – a situation which has not significantly improved since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008. Growing inequality imposes high costs on children and European societies. As recent data confirmed, children at the bottom end have been allowed to fall further behind in income, education, health and life satisfaction.[2]

The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development adopted last September by all Member States at the UN General Assembly offers both an obligation and an invaluable opportunity to take stock of the available EU policy frameworks and to tackle child poverty. Goal 1, Target 2 requires Member States to “by 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions”. Aligning the work of the EU with this universal agenda requires EU-wide measurement and response to both monetary and multidimensional child poverty to ensure that in Europe no child is left behind.

The Alliance for Investing in Children urges EU institutions and Member States, and in particular the upcoming Slovak Presidency, to maintain child poverty and social exclusion high on their political agenda and to take forward the following actions:

  • Promote a more comprehensive implementation of the Recommendation Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage by developing a roadmap and adopting child well-being indicators, as called for in the Written Declaration on investing in children.[3]
  • Re-balance the economic and social priorities throughout the European Semester process and put a stronger emphasis on policies addressing child and family poverty and social exclusion in the Country Specific Recommendations.
  • Continue to promote the positive exchange of knowledge to tackle child poverty encouraged by the Dutch Presidency through the collection of best practices that is planned to be published as an addendum to the Council Conclusions and by the European Commission through the organisation of Peer Reviews.[4] We recommend that the lessons learnt are taken in due account by Member States when designing and implementing policies that aim to combat child poverty and social exclusion, and that Peer Reviews continue to be organised in the future for further exchange and learning.

Investing in all children and young people is key to achieving all aspects of sustainable development. And investing early, through multidimensional and integrated strategies, is crucial to ensure that all children over the course of their lives have the opportunity to develop, thrive and contribute to build a more cohesive, sustainable and prosperous Europe.

For more information, contact Jana Hainsworth, Eurochild Secretary General, +32 (0)2 211 05 50, Jana.Hainsworth[at]eurochild.org———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

[1] European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, An ever closer union among the peoples of Europe? Rising inequalities in the EU and their social, economic and political impacts, Outcomes of EU-funded research, 2014.

[2] UNICEF Report Card 13, Fairness for Children, A league table of inequality in child well/being in rich countries, 2016.

[3] European Parliament, Written declaration on investing in children, September 2015.

[4] European Commission, Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – Peer Review in Ireland: Prevention and early intervention services to address children at risk of poverty http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=89&langId=en&newsId=2328&furtherNews=yes