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Brussels, 03 March 2008

Alert mechanism for missing children and child poverty at the heart of the European Forum for the Rights of the Child

The second meeting of the European Forum for the Rights of the Child will take place in Brussels tomorrow. It will address the issue of alert mechanism for missing children and child poverty, with special attention to the situation of Roma children.

"Children account for over 2 billion of the world population and make up about one third of the population of Europe. They are citizens of Europe today, and they will be tomorrow. Last year we have agreed that children's rights must be considered in their own right, and integrated in policy making from the outset. Tomorrow, at the second European Forum for the Rights of the Child we have an opportunity to do that", declared Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security.

Margot Wallström, Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, said: "I am very pleased to be associated with this initiative. We are planting a tree outside the Headquarters of the Commission which will be a symbol to remind us that we must listen to the voices of the children of Europe."

Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities stated "One child out of five in Europe lives at the risk of poverty. This is absolutely unacceptable. Among some communities, such as the Roma community, child poverty is particularly high. To tackle child poverty we have to make sure that parents have access to work, that in-work poverty is drastically reduced by making work pay and that social transfers are used more effectively. To successfully reduce child poverty will be one of the big challenges of Europe in the coming years".

The European Forum for the rights of the child was set up in 2007. The Forum aims to bring stakeholders together to share expertise, information and good practice and to assist the Commission in the design of policies for children. It is also meant to give visibility to the role and actions of the national Ombudspersons for children and to allow for children’s opinions to be heard and taken into account by decision makers.

The Forum brings together key players – Member States representatives, Ombudspersons for children, representatives of the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Council of Europe, Unicef and civil society

The Forum will include an opening introduction from Vice President Frattini, a video of Child Alert system in France, the Presentation of the "planting a tree as a symbol" by Vice President Wallström, and an introduction on Social exclusion and poverty of children with a special focus on Roma children, by Commissioner Špidla.

For further information on the activities of Vice-President Frattini, please visit his website at:

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