Within the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the European Commission plans to publish a Recommendation on Child Poverty. In order to produce this document, the Commission has been working with representatives from Member States within the Social Protection Committee (SPC). On 27 June 2012, the SPC adopted an advisory report to the European Commission (EC) on the Recommendation, entitled Tackling and Preventing Child Poverty, Promoting Child Well-being, which fed into the Council Conclusions on Preventing and tackling child poverty and social exclusion and promoting children's well-being. Following the release of Council Conclusions, the Commission is expected to have voted on the final Recommendation on Child Poverty by the end of 2012.
In its Advisory Report, which served as a building block for the Council Conclusions, the SPC recommended a coordinated, holistic approach across a range of policy areas (such as health, education, employment and social protection, among others) to tackle and prevent child poverty and the transmission of socio-economic disadvantage across generations effectively. Also, the SPC emphasised the importance of participation of children in social, sporting, and cultural activities notably. The document first examined at-risk-of-poverty levels in the European population and highlighted that children face higher risks of poverty or social exclusion than the overall EU population. It then offered insights into the determinants affecting poverty levels and the well-being of children, and outlined potential strategies for dealing with factors affecting child poverty. For instance, it is suggested that encouraging parental leave and part-time work enabling reconciliation and family life may increase the participation of parents in the labour market and in turn improve the well-being of children. Other strategies were also discussed across a range of policy areas such as education, healthcare, and social protection, and recommendations, such as greater access to quality early childhood education and care services, were made. In its report, the SPC also noted that although political momentum had developed on the issues of child poverty during the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, no systematic monitoring review and monitoring of developments has taken place. It therefore recommended developing a monitoring framework comprising a series of indicators on child poverty and well-being.
The Council welcomes the SPC’s recommendation. Overall, the Council Conclusions promote the fight against social exclusion and child poverty and the promotion of child well-being in all policy areas. Specifically, the Council Conclusions follow the SPC’s input by inviting relevant stakeholders, namely the SPC, the European Commission, and the European Union Member States, to commit to three core actions in the future. First, furthering the use of existing (and, when appropriate, new) monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the political momentum and commitment to combat child poverty does not wane. The second recommendation encourages stakeholders to consider the combat against child poverty and social exclusion and the promotion of the well-being of children as a key issue of the social dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy. The third recommendation to the EU Member States, the Commission and to the SPC emphasises the need to evaluate policies and improve monitoring and reporting on child poverty. A series of tailored recommendations are then formulated in turn for the Commission, for the SPC and for Member States. The Council advises the Commission to sustain the momentum in this field and to further develop coordinated approaches between social inclusion and other policy areas, but also to support the development of indicators with the SPC and to adopt the Recommendation on Child Poverty as soon as possible. The SPC is asked to continue improving indicators focusing on children and to work increasingly in cooperation with relevant EU Committees and High-Level Groups. Recommendations for Member States focus on increasing investments in child and family support, notably by making full use of financial opportunities offered by the EU, and recognising the long-term nature of such investments. Member States are also advised to engage all key actors at all levels by using current instruments in a more comprehensive fashion, notably to promote visibility and shared awareness.