Protection from child poverty recognised by European Pillar of Social Rights

Date: 2nd May 2017
Category: Child poverty

The European Commission has put forward a proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights which recognises "children's right to protection from poverty", among others.

The Pillar sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. The Pillar is designed as a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe. It is primarily conceived for the euro area but applicable to all EU Member States wishing to be part of it.

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said:

"As Commission President, I have been seeking to put social priorities at the heart of Europe's work, where they belong. With the European Pillar of Social Rights and the first set of initiatives that accompany it, we are delivering on our promises and we are opening a new chapter. We want to write this chapter together: Member States, EU institutions, the social partners and civil society all have to take on their responsibility. I would like to see the Pillar endorsed at the highest political level before the end of this year."

The Pillar was prepared by the Commission, under the leadership of Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen, in close consultation with stakeholders at all levels. It reaffirms rights that are already present in the EU and international legal acquis and complements them to take account of new realities. The principles and rights enshrined in the Pillar are structured around three categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. They place the focus on how to tackle new developments in the world of work and society at large so as to deliver on the promise of the Treaties of a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress.

Delivering on the principles and rights defined in the European Pillar of Social Rights is a joint responsibility of Member States, EU institutions social partners and other stakeholders. The European institutions will help to set the framework and lead the way forward for the implementation of the Pillar, in full respect of Member States' competences and social dialogue traditions. A number of principles and rights included in the Pillar will require further legislative initiatives to become effective. Where needed, existing EU law will be updated, complemented and better enforced.

Already, the European Commission flanks the European Pillar of Social Rights with a number of further concrete legislative and non-legislative initiatives such as on the work-life balance of parents and carers, on the information of workers, and on access to social protection and on working time. These initiatives illustrate both the nature of the issues covered by the Pillar as well as the way in which its principles and rights can be implemented.

The Commission will now enter into discussions with the European Parliament and the Council to work towards broad political support and high-level endorsement of the Pillar.

Eurochild, -- a Coalition of European networks of NGOs - have also welcomed the recommendation to EU Member States to develop "national strategies on child participation" to involve children in all actions and decisions that concern them. A social scoreboard will measure child poverty, early childhood education and care and impact of social transfers. Such a scoreboard must have equal weight as the EU's macroeconomic scoreboard if we want to see change in the lives of children.

Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General, Eurochild said:

"Children in the EU face a higher risk of poverty compared with adults. As such, the recognition of children's rights to protection from poverty and access to early education and care is a welcome step. The Commission's proposal sets Europe on a good path towards rebalancing of social and economic agenda and we are eager to support implementing its recommendations.

We look forward to support from the European Parliament and the Council so that these principles can be translated into action. In an otherwise uncertain future, investing in children is a certain way to build resilience and more inclusive societies", concludes Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General, Eurochild."