Building a European Parliament With Children, For Children
On the occasion of International Children’s Day, the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights committed to encouraging MEPs to engage directly with children more often and more effectively. Children from various countries, including Netherlands, Slovakia, UK, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia shared their experiences of working as child mayors, child councillors and building child-friendly cities at a symposium organised by Eurochild and the Universal Education Foundation.
“We can learn as much from you as you can from us,” said Caterina Chinnici, Co-chair of the EP Intergroup on Children’s Rights. “The intergroup on children’s rights strongly supports any initiative that brings us closer to the real experiences and views of children.”
In a workshop hosted by Julie Ward MEP, they discussed the ways in which the European Parliament can become a beacon for children’s participation:
• Strengthening an on-going dialogue with children: Children’s experience of meeting with various MEPs was mixed. Some really engaged in active listening and responded to children’s questions. Others seemed to talk at the children, and didn’t really take them seriously.
According to Julie Ward, intergroup member and convenor of the lunchtime meeting: “I don’t believe young people are de-politicised or not interested in the world around them - on the contrary, they are shouting at the gates of power asking to be let in! "
• Making EU material more accessible for children: Participants agreed that the official documents of the EU are impenetrable. Even if there is translation to 24 official languages, it’s not easy to read or understand. If documents were more child friendly they would also be people friendly. Children can play an important role in creating child friendly materials.
Nathalie Griesbeck, Vice-Chair of the EP Intergroup on Children’s Rights, added “We need to find ways to engage in real conversations with children and young people. We need to inform children and speak with them in a language they can understand. Children are equal citizens and an asset for Europe and the work we do in politics!”
• Promoting an MEP take-over day: Several MEPs showed interest in participating in a take-over day, allowing a child to step into their shoes for a day.
According to Jana Zitnanska “Such an initiative should be two-way. In our job it’s also important to take some distance from our work and step into the shoes of a child. It would bring new perspectives and new energy.”
• Budgets: Allocating money to build participation mechanisms and child-friendly information; and in turn, informing children on how money is spent in order to participate in decision-making.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Co-Chair of the EP Intergroup on Children’s Rights, concluded: “Communication and transparency are crucial to get closer to our children, our future leaders! The Intergroup on Children's Rights is fully committed to continue to make children’s voices heard and increase child participation in decision-making. Politics is all about improving life now and for our children.”
Emilio Puccio, Coordinator, European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights
Phone: +32 (0)2 48 57128
About the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights:
The Intergroup on Children’s Rights represents the first formal body in the EP that will mainstream children’s rights and assess the impact of legislative and non-legislative work on children. It is a cross-party, a cross-national group of committed MEPs, who will work together with child-focused organisations to keep children’s rights on top of the EU agenda. The Intergroup’s work is based on the Child Rights Manifesto prepared by a coalition of child-focused organisations working towards the realisation of the EU’s legal and policy commitments to promote and protect children’s rights, and obligations set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.