Building a community of children’s rights supporters in 2024 – 2029 European Parliament

2024 Vote for Children Campaign: Eurochild members’ involvement

The EU stands as one of the most prosperous and developed regions globally. Its institutions have the power to drive social progress through policy-making, funding, monitoring, and cross-border cooperation. Therefore, it is a fundamental platform to safeguard and enhance children’s rights across its member states.

The European Parliament elections are crucial in this process, as voters will choose their new European leadership for the next five years. Indeed, a new political cycle will be starting, with new representatives and (re-)shaped agendas.

Recognising the importance of this momentum and looking at the state of children’s rights across the EU, 23 civil society organisations working on children’s rights created the #Voteforchildren campaign aiming to put children at the top of the political agendas. The coalition campaign was launched on March 21, at the European Parliament in an event co-hosted by the European Parliament Children’s Rights Intergroup and Children’s Rights Action Group, CRAG. It featured key speakers from across the political divide, such as S&D MEP Milan Brglez, EPP MEP Caterina Chinnici and Renew MEP Hilde Vautmans. Ten children from within and outside the EU presented the Europe Kids Want survey results, offering their insights into their current concerns and recommendations of children living in Europe. The children seized the opportunity to voice their opinions on politicians’ approach to children’s rights.

“Politicians are not interested in children because they cannot vote. This is why they are not aware of our problems. They believe that we will grow up and our problems will disappear”, Harry (14) Bulgaria

Child rights experts called on future MEPs to commit to become child rights champions, by promoting and protecting children’s rights throughout their mandate.

Signatories to the #Voteforchildren manifesto adhere to concrete measures to address the challenges children face today in Europe such as mental health issues. It presents as well recommendations to ensure that children’s voices are heard and their rights protected at every level of decision-making, including re-establishing the Intergroup on Children’s rights in the Parliament.

Eurochild has worked in close collaboration with its members throughout Europe, to disseminate the campaign. Several national organisations working for and with children led activities to raise awareness on the prominent role of the EU and the importance of the European election for children’s rights and well-being.

To that end, our members translated the manifesto into their respective languages to promote its national dimension and make it within reach of a wider audience.

The National Network for Children, a Bulgarian member translated the manifesto into Bulgarian. Translated material was then circulated it to MEP candidates and brought up in national media appearances. Our member’s endeavours were not vain, as 9 candidates signed the manifesto, of which 3 were elected. These new MEPs are committed to children’s rights and declared, upon signing the manifesto:

“Promoting children’s rights requires a strong partnership between states and the non-governmental sector to ensure a future where every child grows up protected, supported and respected.” Andrey Novakov, elected MEP and signatory of the manifesto

The key task of any healthy society is to create a favorable societal environment in which children have a similar start, are protected, healthy and encouraged to learn and develop. [...] Our main task as politicians is to prepare our children for the new realities and for the future technological and digital world.” Radan Kanev, elected MEP and signatory of the manifesto

“[...]Children's rights and the reduction of inequalities are among the main values ​​that are embedded in my work. Every child should have equal access to education, since this shall determine their life in the future. I welcome this initiative of the National Network for Children and Eurochild and undertake to defend the cause in the European Parliament.” Tsvetelina Penkova, elected MEP and signatory of the manifesto

The new child rights supporters have joined a NNC Parliamentary Group for Children that currently reached 60 deputies represented in either national or European Parliaments.

Similarly, our Portuguese member Instituto de Apoio à Criança translated the campaign in Portuguese. Their board members were able to use flyers during a high event at the National Parliament with leading candidates.

Spanish member Plataforma de Infancia made the campaign available in Spanish and leant on it, along with the Europe Kids Want survey, to organise a debate with MEPs candidates.

“As children, we want policymakers to heed our calls and take decisive action to build a more inclusive, supportive and sustainable Europe for all children and adolescents,” Daniel (15)

Three candidates from different political affiliations listened to children’s plea, calling on politicians to be more inclusive and attentive to children, as experts of their own life.

“I bring you the voice of a lot of girls and boys in Europe. We think that sometimes you make decisions without taking into account what we want, we ask you to speak less and listen more at events like today's.” Sensoles (17)

Attending candidates exposed their proposals, like the implementation of the European Child Guarantee.

In like manner, Our children Opatija, from Croatia, invited MEPs candidates to become child right champions through a comprehensive dissemination. The translated #Voteforchildren campaign was relayed on their website, social media and emails, as well as shared with Children’s Councils and Forums.

They have also hosted a debate on May 20, where professionals and children displayed both the manifesto and the survey. Children shed light on their needs:

"We want Europe where we all have the same opportunities!"

"We need education which prepares us for life!"

"End poverty and social exclusion!"

"We want peace and equality!"

Unfortunately, EP Croatian candidates ignored children’s presentation by not attending the event. An affront and political message that did not go unnoticed by the press.

Thankfully, Opatija’s efforts did not go unrewarded, as Councillors from the Children’s Councils had a discussion with the Advisor of the Ombudsperson for Children of the Republic of Croatia, Ana Albrecht Čekada.

Italian member, Fondation L’Albero della Vita, joined forces with Save the Children Italy, SOS Children’s Village Italy and Terre des Hommes Italy through an exclusive communication campaign directed to MEP candidates. A collaborative effort does indeed amplify the strengths of our message: prioritising children in public policy. Their undertaking thrived, as candidates have joined the motion.

Finally, the Dutch children’s rights coalition organised a debate on children’s rights in Amsterdam, leaning on themes identified in the Europe Kids Want survey. Diverse but nonetheless relevant topics were touched upon, as they draw from children’s biggest concerns. Candidates to the European Parliament took part in the debate to express their views and second children’s perceptions.  

“We steal the child from being a child” affirmed Ufuk Kâhya, when discussing migration.

On child sexual abuse online, Gerben Horst asserted that protecting children from this kind of horrific exploitation and abuse takes precedence over privacy”

Laura de Vries agreed that “we need to tackle poverty at its source”.

Undoubtedly, putting children at the heart of Europe necessitates a strong community of support. Eurochild is a network organisation welcoming over 200 organisations and professionals, working with and for children. By nurturing durable partnerships, it aims at securing children’s rights and ensure that every political cycle upholds children’s rights as its priority.

The elections have now come to an end, revealing a fruitful campaign: over 250 MEPs have vouched for children’s rights.

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