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Strasbourg, 4 July 2006

Commission launches comprehensive EU strategy to promote and safeguard the rights of the child

Today, the European Commission adopted its Communication “Towards an EU strategy on the Rights of the Child”. This is the first time the Commission has taken such a transversal and cross-cutting approach to children’s rights. It concerns both internal and external policies of the Union and covers more than ten of these policies such as civil and criminal justice, employment, development cooperation, trade negotiation, education and health.

President Barroso said: “When I took office I gave a commitment to underpin all our actions with a strengthened emphasis on fundamental rights. The rights and values we bestow on future generations are the true demonstration of our commitment to fundamental rights. I hope that the process we have launched today provides a series of practical actions to reinforce children’s rights.”

Vice-President Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, pointed out that "Children’s rights are still far from being generally respected, and their basic needs are sometimes not being met. The European Union can and should bring essential and fundamental added value in the field of children’s rights”

Building on its long tradition and legal and political commitments with regard to human rights in general and children’s rights in particular, the EU has the necessary weight to push children’s rights to the forefront of the international agenda and can use its global presence and influence to effectively promote universal children's rights at national level worldwide. It can also promote and support attention to children’s needs, drawing on Europe’s values of social protection and on its policy commitments and programmes in different fields.

In the short term, and especially due to the urgency of certain challenges, the Commission will, in particular, take the following additional measures:

- To attribute one single six digits telephone number (beginning with 116: 116-xyz)
within the EU for child help lines and one for child hotlines dedicated to missing
and sexually exploited children (end 2006)

- To support the banking sector and credit cards companies to combat the use of
credit cards when purchasing sexual images of children on the Internet (2006)

- To launch an Action Plan on Children in Development Cooperation to address
children’s priority needs in developing countries (2007)

- To promote a clustering of actions on child poverty in the EU (2007)

The Communication outlines seven specific objectives including the necessity to take stock of existing activities, address urgent needs and to identify priorities for future EU action. One objective is to ensure that all internal and external EU policies respect children's rights in accordance with the principles of EU law, the provisions of the UNCRC and other international instruments. Another is to improve the effectiveness of activities promoting children's rights and the Communication outlines an appropriate mechanism for this purpose. Further the Commission proposes a communication strategy to raise public awareness on children’s rights for the benefit of children, parents and other interested parties alike.

The Commission will also appoint a “Commission Coordinator of the Rights of the Child”, acting as a contact person of the European Commission, making Children’s Rights more visible, and ensuring coordination of the strategy with all services concerned.

Finally, the communication draws a preliminary inventory of more than 75 EU instruments affecting children’s rights including concrete legislative, non-legislative and financial actions that are to be proposed in 2006-2007.

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