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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 April 2014

Rights of the child: Commission gathers input how to best protect the most vulnerable from violence

Which are the most effective measures to combat violence against children? What are the biggest challenges faced by national child protection systems? How can the EU support national child protection systems? To answer these questions, the European Commission has today kicked off an online public consultation to help Member States develop integrated and effective child protection systems. The input will result in EU guidance providing information on EU legislation and policies relevant to these systems. It will clarify where the EU can support national child protection systems, and showcase good practices in looking after children in cross-border as well as in national contexts. Any individual or organisation with an interest in child protection can participate in the consultation online until 3 July.

"The EU has the responsibility to keep the most vulnerable in our society from harm. Three years after we first presented the EU Agenda for the rights of the child, words have turned into action: the Commission adopted laws to better protect children who have become victims of crime or who are suspects in criminal proceedings. We have acted to ensure that the missing children hotline is working all over Europe and we have trained guardians and public authorities who are in close contact with unaccompanied minors. Now is the time to move up a gear and make sure all EU and national policies support child-friendly protection systems," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner. "These systems can only work in the interest of the child if they ensure that everyone dealing with children – in education, health, welfare, justice, civil society and the community – works together to create a protective environment for all children. With today's consultation we want to achieve just that. The best interests of the child must always come first."

Within the EU, child protection systems are primarily the responsibility of each Member State. However the EU does have a mandate to establish common rules in areas where children’s rights come into play, such as their rights in criminal proceedings, free movement within the EU, asylum or trafficking. The EU can also play a role when a child's safety involves more than one country, for example when an unaccompanied child moves from one country to another, or when a child goes missing. As the Commission seeks input on how to best improve national child protection systems, it also takes stock of progress made under the EU's Agenda for the rights of the child which was adopted in February 2011 (IP/11/156). Three years down the line, the Commission has successfully delivered on the 11 priority actions in areas such as child-friendly justice, protecting children when they are vulnerable, shielding children from violence, and child participation. Following Commission action, all of these measures have now largely been put in place (see Annex 1).

The consultation launched today on child protection systems will gather input so that the EU can, by the end of 2014, issue guidance to Member States in this area building on the results achieved in the course of implementation of the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child. The guidance will take stock of the various existing EU instruments which may affect the protection of the rights of children and suggest how EU countries can better use or implement those instruments as part of their child protection systems. It will cover all forms of violence as determined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular Article 19 (the right to protection from all forms of violence).

Background

In the EU, one in four children live in poverty and are at the greatest risk of harm; children make up one quarter of new asylum seekers every year, 250 000 cases of missing children are reported every year; children make up 15% of identified victims of trafficking, and more than one million children live in institutional care across Europe.

For more information

Public consultation on guidance for child protection systems:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/fundamental-rights/opinion/140402_en.htm

Children's rights in the EU:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/fundamental-rights/rights-child/index_en.htm

7th and 8th European Forum on the Rights of the Child addressing child protection systems:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/fundamental-rights/rights-child/european-forum/seventh-meeting/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/fundamental-rights/rights-child/european-forum/eighth-meeting/index_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow Vice-President Reding on Twitter:

@VivianeRedingEU

Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

Annex 1: EU Agenda for the rights of the child: State of play

Priority action

State of play as at 31.03.2014

1. Adopting, in 2011, a proposal for a Directive on victims’ rights raising the level of protection of vulnerable victims, including children;

Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA

2. Tabling, in 2012, a proposal for a Directive on special safeguards for suspected or accused persons who are vulnerable, including children;

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings (COM(2013)822/2 of 27 November 2013)

3. Revising, by 2013, the EU legislation facilitating the recognition and enforcement of decisions on parental responsibility with a view to ensuring, in the interest of the child, that decisions can be recognised and enforced as quickly as possible, including, where appropriate, the establishment of common minimum standards;

Council Regulation 2201/2003 (Brussels IIa Regulation) entered into force in 2005 and its application is currently under evaluation.

4. Promoting the use of the Council of Europe Guidelines of 17 November 2010 on child-friendly justice and taking them into account in future legal instruments in the field of civil and criminal justice;

Joint training with the Council of Europe on 27 March 2012 on the Guidelines for DG Justice and DG Home staff.

EU translated Guidelines into most remaining EU languages.

The Guidelines served as a template for EU study to collect data on children's involvement in judicial proceedings (ongoing 2012-2014

5. Supporting and encouraging the development of training activities for judges and other professionals at European level regarding the optimal participation of children in judicial systems.

Communication COM (2011)551 final, Building trust in EU-wide justice - a new dimension to European judicial training, adopted on 13 September 2011.

Funding priority under the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme in 2013 on training

Mapping of training policy in scope of study on children's involvement in justice

Fundamental Rights Agency complementary study: primary research among judicial and other practitioners on children's involvement in justice will also cover training

6. Supporting the exchange of best practices and the improvement of training for guardians, public authorities and other actors who are in close contact with unaccompanied children (2011-2014);

Expert meeting 21 June 2011 (DG HOME) with the objective of identifying needs of Guardians and possible EU actions to support them.

The 7th European Forum on the rights of the child in 2012 included a workshop on the role of child protection systems in protecting children on the move. This work was continued the 8th European Forum in December 2013.

Model for guardians in preparation by the Fundamental Rights Agency (mid 2014) – discussed with the Member State Delegates in the informal expert group on the rights of the child on 18 February.

7. Paying particular attention to children in the context of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, which will be adopted in spring 2011 and will notably promote the more efficient use of structural funds for the integration of Roma;

Communication COM (2011) 173 final, EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, adopted on 5 April 2011.

Council Conclusions of 19 May 2011 on an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020.

Communication on the National Roma Integration Strategies: a first step in the implementation of the EU Framework on 23 May 2012.

Commission Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions) (COM(2013)454 final) of 26 June 2013 – Steps forward implementing national Roma integration strategies

Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States (COM(2013)460 final of 26 June 2013)

Council Recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States

8. Strongly encouraging and providing support to all Member States to ensure the swift introduction and full functioning of the 116 000 hotline for missing children and the child alert mechanisms (2011-2012);

116 000 hotline

The 116000 number has been assigned to and is operational in 27 Member States with Finland the only Member State remaining inactive.

First conference on 'European responses to missing children and the need for child-friendly justice' organised on 26 May 2011.

Second conference on 'Missing Children, closing the gaps' on 30 May 2012.

Third Conference on Missing Children: 116 000 hotlines: innovative approaches and challenges to funding missing children - Brussels, 4 June 2013

In 2012, 15 Member States benefited from a total of €3million in funding for setting up and running 116 000 hotlines.

In 2013, 18 Member States benefited from a total of €4.5 million in funding for setting up and running 116 000 hotlines.

Child Alert

In 2012, €600,000 was made available to set up new child alert mechanisms. Poland and Bulgaria were awarded funding.

In 2013, €600,000 was made available with SK, ES, UK and CY awarded funding.

A Special Eurobarometer on Harmonised numbers for services of social value - 116 was published in October 2011. A Eurobarometer update was published in May 2012

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/116/index_en.htmWebsite on 116 numbers (DG INFSO) online in May 2012

9. Supporting Member States and other stakeholders in strengthening prevention, empowerment and participation of children to make the most of online technologies and counter cyber-bullying behaviour, exposure to harmful content, and other online risks namely through the Safer Internet programme and cooperation with the industry through self-regulatory initiatives (2009-2014);

Safer Internet Programme 2012 work programme

28 leading companies formed a new Coalition to make a better and safer internet for children. http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/sip/self_reg/index_en.htm

Communication COM(2012) 196 final, European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children, adopted 2 May 2012

In 2013, the DAPHNE III Programme included priorities on anti-bullying programmes including social networks and projects to empower children to use media in a safe way

10. Continuing the implementation of the 2007 EU Guidelines on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child that focus on combating all forms of violence against children. The EU will also evaluate the implementation of the Guidelines. The EU will implement the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflicts based on the 2010 Revised Implementation Strategy;

EU Guidelines on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child

In February 2012, the EU organised a conference to launch a discussion on the review of the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of the Child.

In January 2012, the EU launched a campaign to promote the ratification of two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the rights of the child and the International Labour Organisation Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour in more than 50 countries.

Training on children's rights

The European External Action Service organises yearly trainings on children's rights for EU institutions, EU Member States and EU delegations, in co-operation with UNICEF and Save the children. Furthermore, in 2012 The Commission's DEVCO department launched a specific online training module on child rights in development cooperation available for EU and Member State staff, in EU headquarters and in delegations. Under the Investing in people programme, the European Commission funded the compilation of a “Toolkit on the mainstreaming of child rights in development cooperation activities and programmes” in cooperation with UNICEF. The toolkit and relevant training material will be available by 2014.

Children in armed conflict

In 2012, a new multi-annual EU funding line specifically dedicated to children affected by conflict was launched. As the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the EU for its contribution over six decades to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe, the EU decided to devote the award to help children affected by conflict. The European Commission doubled the Nobel Prize money to a joint sum of €2 million, which will support humanitarian projects in the field of education in emergencies. Two additional calls for project proposals were launched in 2012 under the Instrument for Stability and Investing in People Programme.

Child labour

In 2012, the EU launched the implementation of 15 projects against child labour financed under the Investing in People Project that are worth €11.1 million.

Commission staff working document of 30 April 2013 (SWD(2013)173 final) on trade and the worst forms of child labour

Human rights country strategies

The EU has prioritized children's rights in over 60 human rights country strategies over the world.

11. Setting up, in the course of 2011, a single entry point on EUROPA with information for children on the EU and on the rights of the child. The Commission will invite other EU institutions to join this initiative.

The single entry point providing children with information about the EU and their rights, Kids' Corner, was launched at the end of 2011. The EU website for the Rights of the Child, dedicated to children, was launched as part of the Kids' Corner.


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