Minimum age: Balancing child protection and participation

Date: 27th November 2017
Category: General measures of implementation, General principles, Age of criminal responsibility

On Universal Children's Day, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published findings on differences in legal minimum ages to help the EU and its Member States eliminate inconsistencies, protection gaps and seemingly arbitrary restrictions resulting from different age thresholds.

To highlight these differences the Agency mapped the national legal age requirements in various areas across the EU.

The web publication 'Mapping minimum age requirements concerning the rights of the child in the EU', covers differences in legal minimum ages in the field of marriage and sexual activity; citizenship; political participation; health; and religion.

The findings underline the wide differences in the limits set by Member States across different areas. They point to the need to improve the way age limits are set to achieve consistency and better balance the need to protect children with the need to empower children. The Agency's report will contribute to the debate on minimum ages together with UNICEF and the Child Rights International Network (CRIN), which stress the limits and contradictions of simple age-based restrictions.

Further findings will be released in 2018. They will cover migration and asylum, access to justice, social and economic rights, the digital world and LGBTI issues.

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