EU leaders urged to tackle child poverty in EU recovery plan and budget

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  • 23 million children in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. (Eurostat, 2018) That means, 1 in 4 children either do not receive adequate nutrition, have a safe and comfortable home to study or resources to thrive.
  • Children continue to be at higher risk of poverty (24.3%) than the general population (21.9%) in the EU. (Eurostat, 2018)
  • More than 1 in 5 children (0-17 years) live in an overcrowded household in European OECD countries.

Unfortunately, the pandemic and the lockdown has exacerbated social inequalities. School closures, social distancing and confinement have increased, among others, the risk of poor nutrition among children, the risk of domestic violence and reduced access to vital family and care services. Children already disadvantaged before the crisis by poverty, migration status or difficult home environments have suffered most during lockdown.  

Significant efforts will be needed to bridge the educational divide, support vulnerable families and boost child protection systems if we are to avoid the long-term consequences of failing our children. We need more resources and efforts, to tackle and to overcome the challenges raised by the pandemic, to ensure that no child in Europe is left behind.

According to a recent study, the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic could increase household poverty by the end of 2020 by 15% worldwide. (UNICEF and Save the Children, May 2020). According to the European Commission, the EU is forecast to experience “a deep recession this year due to the COVID19 crisis”.

It is important to learn from the past and avoid responding with austerity.  Public investment in children and families, and the services that support them, is essential if recovery is to be sustainable and inclusive.  We urge the European Union to invest resources where it will make the greatest difference and put child poverty to history.

Children are at risk of becoming invisible victims of the pandemic.  It is the duty of our leaders to leave them with a better today and tomorrow. Protecting children’s rights is not only a question of values, principles and legal obligations.  It is also the foundation on which all children thrive and develop their full potential. The Commission’s recovery plan aptly titled “Next Generation EU” must strengthen the foundations for our youngest population today and in the future.

On behalf of the children’s rights community in Europe we expect EU leaders to support the proposal in the 2021-27 EU budget that each member state allocates at least 5% of the European Social Fund Plus to address child poverty, in line with a Council Recommendation on the Child Guarantee.

The allocation of these resources will help to implement the necessary reforms to ensure all children and families receive the services and support they need to thrive.

We, together with all the children in Europe, stand ready to contribute to the building of a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Read Eurochild’s public statement in its entirety along with a video address from H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Eurochild.

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