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Brussels, 9 December 2008

The rights of the child: Third European Forum on the rights of the child and the award ceremony for the competition "I have a right to protection"

The third European Forum on the rights of the child, which is taking place today, will look at the question of children's participation in the making of the policies that affect them and the issue of violence against children. The winners of the 2008 competition entitled "I have a right to protection" will receive their prizes: this year the first prizes in the two age groups went to an Italian team and a Maltese team. The competition, organised by the Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security, was an opportunity for nearly 40 000 young people from all over Europe, aged between 10 and 18, to work on producing 8 000 posters on the theme of children's right to protection within the European Union.

Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ("The rights of the child") clearly states that "Children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being." Vice-President Jacque Barrot made the point that "genuine protection comes not only from laws but also from raising awareness, educating and involving young people themselves. For this reason I have taken the step of convening the European Forum on the rights of the child to discuss these issues here today. The competition on children's right to protection shows that it is possible to organise a specific activity to raise awareness throughout the European Union in which young people are actively and directly involved." The Forum will also present to the participants and the young people the preparations for constructing an EU internet site on the rights of the child, specially designed for them. The Eurobarometer opinion poll in March 2008 showed that a third of the children interviewed (33%) did not know they had any rights.

The role of the European Forum on the rights of the child is to advise and assist the Commission and the other European institutions and to exchange information and best practice in the area of children's rights. It also aims to make the adult world listen to and take notice of children's views on policies and subjects of relevance to them.

The Forum was launched in the wake of the adoption by the European Commission on 4 July 2006 of the communication "Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child". Its members are representatives of the EU Member States, children's ombudsmen, representatives of the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Council of Europe, UNICEF and NGOs.

In order to take account of recent developments and to bring child protection in the EU up to the highest international standards, the Commission will present a proposal in March 2009 to improve and tighten up the Council Framework Decision on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, the EU's main legal instrument in this field.

For this competition on the theme of "Children's right to protection", the third of its kind, young people were asked to design a poster illustrating the idea of their right to protection in the European Union. The participants were divided into two age groups (10-14 and 15-18) and worked in teams of at least four people, assisted by teachers or youth leaders. The competition attracted nearly 40 000 entrants from all over Europe, aged between 10 and 18, who produced over 8 000 posters inspired by the slogan "I have a right to protection". After an initial selection at national level a European jury awarded the first three prizes in each age category. Vice-President Barrot is hosting the European award ceremony in Brussels today. The winning teams are:

10-14 age group:

1. Italy

2. Greece

3. United Kingdom

15-18 age group:

1. Malta

2. Czech Republic

3. Poland

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