Commission experts ask for stronger implementation in investing in children

Date: 21st August 2017
Category: General measures of implementation

This European Commission report examines the extent to which 35 European countries have strengthened or further developed their policies and programmes for children since 2013 in ways that are consistent with the EU Recommendation on Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage.

In February 2013, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation on Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage as a key element of its Social Investment Package. This Recommendation, which was subsequently endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers (July 2013), sets out a common European Framework for tackling child poverty and social exclusion and promoting child well-being. It aims to help Member States "strengthen synergies across relevant policy areas" as well as "review their policies and learn from each other's experiences in improving policy efficiency and effectiveness through innovative approaches, whilst taking into account the different situations and needs at local, regional and national level". It also encourages the use of financial instruments, especially the Structural Funds, to promote social inclusion and combat poverty. In particular, it sets out guidelines for Member States to "organise and implement policies to address child poverty and social exclusion, promoting children's well-being, through multi-dimensional strategies".

This Synthesis Report brings together the findings of the national reports written by each of the 35 ESPN Country Teams of independent experts and makes recommendations for the next phase of the implementation of the Recommendation in the light of the European Pillar of Social Rights' principles in relation to children.

The overall finding of the ESPN analysis is that the modest progress made in the direction outlined in the Recommendation is insufficient to the scale of the problem in many countries. Four countries in particular have taken initiatives to strengthen their policies/approaches and programmes in a significant number of areas. Another eight countries have also made improvements that are in line with the Recommendation in several areas. The countries that already had strong policies and programmes and low levels of child poverty or social exclusion have largely maintained these. However, it is clear that very limited progress has been made in most areas in too many of the countries with high or very high levels of child poverty or social exclusion and indeed some of these have actually weakened their approach in several areas. This is particularly concerning given the persistently high levels of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU (26.9% in 2015) and the very wide divergence between countries: 10 countries studied have low proportions (14-20%) of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion whereas, at the other end of the scale, seven have very high proportions (36-58%).

Children that grow up in poverty are more likely to suffer from social exclusion and health problems in the future, and also less likely to develop to their full potential later in life.

Breaking the cycle of disadvantage in early years and investing in children through a preventative approach allows reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion.

This implies not just providing children with adequate living standards: it also means helping them live up to their full potential through an integrated approach bringing them the best educational and health outcomes.