Press Statement of the EU Alliance for Investing in Children ahead of the adoption of the Annual Growth Survey 2015 by the European Commission.
Children’s rights and well-being must be made an explicit priority in the upcoming Annual Growth Survey (AGS) for 2015. It is the European Commission’s last AGS before the results of the Europe 2020 mid-term review are announced. It is an important moment to translate the European Union’s commitment to reducing poverty and ensuring an inclusive recovery to the crisis. Children must be an explicit priority for two main reasons: children are being disproportionally affected by the crisis, and tackling poverty in childhood is the most effective way of building more inclusive and prosperous societies in the long-term.
EU Member States have repeatedly affirmed their commitment to reducing child poverty. The 2013 Recommendation Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage adopted as part of the Social Investment Package provides clear policy guidance. It calls for EU tools such as the European Semester and Structural and Investment Funds to support its implementation. Nonetheless child poverty has reached unprecedented levels in Europe with some 26.5 million children at risk of poverty or social exclusion. That is half a million more children in just one year,iii which means the economic, financial and social crisis is only putting even more children at risk.
The EU Alliance for Investing in Children believes the EU needs to do more. To trigger greater political will, the Commission should request that all Member States introduce specific sub-targets on child poverty. Some have already done so, but too few considering its political importance. These should be backed up by integrated strategies to tackle child poverty and promote well-being, based on the Recommendation’s holistic approach of giving equal priority to providing material security to families, ensuring access to quality services (early childhood, education, health, housing etc.), and involving children and young people in decision-making. Child poverty is identified as a ‘Trend to Watch’ in the Social Protection Performance Monitor of the Joint Employment Report. However, if there is no mention of child poverty in the Annual Growth Survey itself, Member States will perceive it as a secondary priority.
We are also calling for the scoreboard of social and employment indicators to include a specific indicator on children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and for this scoreboard to become binding to reinforce the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union.
Finally, the Commission should request that all Member States carry out ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments of austerity measures to ensure that they do not negatively impact children’s rights and well-being.
Making children number one priority in Europe 2020 and European Semester processes is a matter of urgency that requires political vision and courage. It will bear fruit in the short and long-term. If Europe invests in children in a way that supports parents and families, ensures access to quality affordable services, and empowers children and young people to participate in decision-making, we will build the foundations for a better society.
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