Maltese EU Presidency: seeking leadership on children's rights
Eurochild, a children's rights network that puts children at the heart of European policymaking, demands the Maltese government to be a children's rights champion during its 6-months presidency of the Council of the European Union. A set of recommendations offer concrete ways for the Maltese EU Presidency to put investing in children and their rights on the EU agenda.
“Malta is setting an example by prioritizing foster care as an alternative to residential care and investing in community level services. We also welcome the increased investment in early childhood education and care and their emphasis on improving inclusive education. At its highest political level, Malta is saying investing in children is important. It's a message we'd like others in the EU community to hear”, says Jana Hainsworth, Eurochild Secretary General (pictured on the right).
Children in Europe face numerous challenges, including high levels of poverty, affecting over one in four children in the EU; poverty negatively impacts children's health, education and ultimately employment opportunities. It is very often passed from one generation to the next. Eurochild is also worried about the numbers of children at risk and in the care system. Too often families are not getting the support they need to care for their children. And public and private money is still going to sustaining outdated institutional care, wholly unsuited to offering the necessary individualised care.
"The Ministry is eager to discuss how to decrease poverty and social exclusion in children by making work pay whilst alleviating families from generational poverty", responded Michael Farrugia, Maltese Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity (pictured on the left).
The European agenda over the course of the Maltese EU presidency offers opportunities to showcase how investing in children is a win for all of society. A new initiative for a European pillar of social rights can help improve social protection systems; Eurochild recommends a binding social benchmark on investment in high quality early childhood education and care as part of the European Semester process, and efforts to strengthen inclusive civil dialogue which promotes child participation.
The President's Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, Malta: “We look forward to the voices of children and young people being given their full dignity, as part of an inclusive and participatory Europe, during the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.”
A review of the European Commission's 2013 Recommendation on Investing in Children is expected to be begin soon; Eurochild recommends the Maltese EU Presidency to ensure public budgets reflect the commitment to invest in children through clear allocation of resources to children, as explained in the UN General Comment 19 on ‘Public budgeting for the realisation of children's rights'.
• Read the recommendations to the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union here.