‘Building a Europe for and with Children’ is a Council of Europe (CoE) programme that was approved by heads of state and government from the 47 member countries of the CoE back at a summit in Warsaw in 2005. The programme''s main objective is to help national governments, MPs, local and regional authorities, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) design and implement national strategies for the protection of children''s rights and the prevention of violence against children. Children are defined as being any human being up to the age of eighteen.
At the 2005 summit, the 47 member countries asked the Council of Europe to effectively promote children’s rights and to fully comply with the obligations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; mainstream children’s rights in all Council of Europe policies and co-ordinate all Council of Europe activities related to children; and eradicate all forms of violence against children, in particular through the launching of a three year plan of action and specific measures against sexual exploitation of children.
The Council of Europe’s budget for the programme amounts to €250,000 per year but this is only part of the money spent as the programme cuts across various departments and there are also additional national contributions. One of the programme’s outputs is a legally non-binding recommendation on positive parenting, which includes a reference to work-life balance.
“Public authorities should create the necessary conditions – and employers should be encouraged – to implement a better reconciliation of family and working life through legal and other provisions (such as flexible working arrangements, adjustment of working and school hours, leave policies, various types of good quality childcare services, provisions for looking after children with disabilities as well as sick children, etc.),” says the recommendation.
An important element of the programme’s latest strategy, which runs from 2009 until 2011, is the development of European guidelines for child-friendly justice at national level. These include the issue of children’s access to national justice.
Another key aspect of the programme is a children’s rights e-platform, including a network of focal points in governments. The campaign against sexual violence against children, which will be launched in Rome in November 2010, is a practical example of how the e-platform will be used. The Council of Europe coordination unit will invite focal points in governments to set up a national campaign team made up of civil society representatives, ombudspersons, international organisations, research institutions, international experts and children. In more general terms, the Council of Europe may send a request for information to the focal point, who will then pass on the request to the relevant ministry, for example the family or justice ministry.