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Agenda for the Rights of the Child

This Agenda presented by the Commission aims at strengthening the promotion and protection of the rights of the child by implementing the principles laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) and international standards in this field. It consists of a series of actions intended to foster an increase in the attention paid to the well-being and protection of children in Union policies.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 February 2011 – An EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child [COM(2011) 60 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The Treaty of Lisbon makes the promotion and protection of the rights of the child one of the objectives of the European Union (EU). These rights form part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU which encourages public authorities and private institutions to ensure that respect for the best interests of the child is treated as a key element when defining and implementing measures concerning children. In addition, all Member States have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The Commission Agenda for the Rights of the Child aims at ensuring that all EU policies having repercussions on children respect their rights. It defines the principles and objectives of the EU in this field and presents eleven actions that Commission will undertake in the coming years.

General principles

In accordance with the strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the EU, the Commission must ensure respect for fundamental rights, and therefore the rights of the child, throughout the legislative procedure and during implementation of legislation.

The Commission also undertakes to work with the competent organisations in order to produce reliable, comparable and official data which will enable evidence-based policies on the rights of the child to be developed and implemented.

Lastly, the European executive undertakes to pursue and to strengthen its cooperation with stakeholders and to foster the exchange of good practices with and between the national authorities responsible for the protection and promotion of the rights of the child.

Aims

  • Adapting justice to children: whether they are victims, witnesses to crimes, suspects, asylum seekers or whether their parents are divorcing, children may be confronted with the judicial system for a number of reasons. The Union must give them access to justice taking into account their specific needs and their vulnerability;
  • Protecting the most vulnerable children: EU action must prioritise targeting those categories of children that are particularly vulnerable, such as children at risk of poverty and social exclusion, disabled children, children seeking asylum, Roma children and missing children. At another level, young Internet users are also vulnerable since they may be exposed to harmful content or become victims of cyber-bullying;
  • Promoting and protecting the rights of the child in the EU’s external action: the Union wishes to prioritise the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in its relations with third countries. It will focus on combating violence against children, child labour, the involvement of children in armed groups, and sexual tourism, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, trade instruments and humanitarian aid;
  • Raising children’s awareness: Eurobarometer surveys show that 76 % of children interviewed are not aware that they have rights and 79 % do not know who to contact in case of need. The Union wishes to better inform children concerning their rights in order that they may participate in decisions concerning them.

Actions

The EU proposes eleven actions aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of the child, namely:

  • adopting a proposal for a directive aimed at strengthening the protection of vulnerable victims, particularly children;
  • submitting a proposal for a directive laying down specific guarantees for vulnerable suspects, particularly children;
  • reviewing legislation which facilitates the recognition and enforcement of decisions on parental responsibility;
  • promoting the Council of Europe guidelines on child-friendly justice and taking them into account when drafting civil and criminal legislation;
  • supporting the training of judges and other professionals in order to foster optimal participation of children in judicial systems;
  • improving the training of the authorities that deal with unaccompanied minors from third countries when they arrive on EU territory;
  • paying particular attention to children in measures that Member States may take to foster the integration of Roma;
  • encouraging the rapid introduction of the European hotline for missing children (116 000) and the introduction of “abduction alert” systems;
  • adopting measures as part of the EU Safer Internet programme against bullying, grooming, exposure to harmful content, and the other risks run by young Internet users;
  • implementing the EU guidelines for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in its relations with third countries as well as its guidelines on children and armed conflict;
  • creating a single entry point for children on the Europa website enabling them to access information on the Union and their rights.

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission of 4 July 2006 – Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child [COM(2006) 367 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 14.06.2011
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