Brussels, 03 March 2008
The European Forum for the rights of the child was set up last year. The first Forum meeting on 4 June 2007 in Berlin focused on strengthening membership, and discussed possible mechanisms for future participation of children to the Forum and how to protect children against sexual exploitation. A third meeting of the Forum is planned for November 2008 and is likely to address the subject of international adoption. The EU has developed various concrete policies and programmes on children’s rights, spanning both internal and external policies and covering a broad range of issues, such as child trafficking and sexual abuse, violence against children, discrimination, child poverty, social exclusion, child labour, health and education.
In addition to the Forum and to the recent Communication "a Special Place for Children in EU External Action", a number of actions envisaged in the communication “Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child” have been launched.
Amongst others, a Commission Decision reserved the number 116000 for a single telephone number for urgent calls about missing children. Work has also been launched with Member States to promote the use of national Child Alert mechanism at cross border level when there is a case which involves another country. The Commission is currently setting up a mechanism to stop payments made with a credit card or an electronic payment when purchasing images of sexual abuse of children on the Internet. In addition, a study on the design of indicators concerning children’s rights and on relevant data sources was launched recently and is monitored with the help of the European Agency on Fundamental Rights.
Other actions concern violence against children, civil justice aspects such as maintenance obligations, parental responsibility and family mediation;and criminal justice aspects, such as fight against trafficking, against sexual exploitation and pedopornography and prevention of the use of drugs. In 2007, work has also been undertaken on poverty and social exclusion of children within the context of the Open Method of Coordination on Social Protection and Social Inclusion which has led to an in-depth examination of policies to fight child poverty feeding into the 2008 Joint report on social protection and social inclusion.
Recent initiatives supported by the Commission include the Safer Internet Day on 12 February 2008.The Safer Internet Day is aimed to create awareness messages on the safe and ethical use of information and communication technologies, namely of the internet and mobile phones. On 11 February 2008 the GSM Association, the global trade association for mobile operators, has launched the Mobile Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Content to obstruct the use of the mobile environment by individuals or organisations wishing to consume or profit from child sexual abuse content.
For its tenth year of existence, the Daphne programme starts a new period of activity 2007-2013 with a global budget of € 116 million. The Daphne programme supports projects aimed at fighting against violence towards children, young people and women.
Cases of missing children and abductions can quickly become cross-border phenomena owing to the small size of some Member States. It therefore seemed appropriate to have a single telephone number for urgent calls about missing children. That has now been done thanks to Commission Decision COM (2007) 24912, with the number 116000 being set aside for this purpose.
Putting in place the services corresponding to number 116 remains the responsibility of Member States. In order to boost the setting up of these services, Missing Children Europe presented European Industry Guidelines, signed by the European landline and mobile phone associations. A Letter of Intent, signed by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) and by Missing Children Europe, will enable the number 116000 to be inaugurated in the 47 Member States of the CEPT. To date (February 2008), 4 countries have attributed the 116000 to an NGO: Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Portugal. Other countries are in the process of doing so.
EU-wide Child Alert mechanism
Several systems already exist at national level, such as the successful “Alerte enlèvement” mechanism set up by the French authorities and there is a need to examine how to promote their use at cross border level when there is a case which involves another country.
A round table with representatives of Member States was held in September 2007. The Commission submitted guidelines describing the mechanism and possible ways of cooperation between Member States.
Stopping the sale of child sexual abuse images
The Commission is currently setting up a mechanism to stop payments made with a credit card or an electronic payment when purchasing images of sexual abuses of children on the Internet. In 2005, to implement this mechanism, Europe VISA created, and finances, the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection). It has some hundred employees, mainly computer experts and financial investigators who scan millions of Internet sites in search of illicit content. When such sites are found, information is passed on to the police and VISA which checks with its "card quire" if transactions were made for the companies running these sites.
After several preparatory meetings, a draft document moots the possibility of a one-stop-shop for all the partners (banks, credit card companies, Internet access providers and national authorities). This one-stop-shop would bring under one roof in the detection of illicit content on the Internet, finding the sites involved and informing the banks so as to stop financial transactions and informing the authorities in order to bring offenders to justice.
The financial sector set up a steering group in autumn 2007 to implement the preparatory measures. In 2008, they will submit a project for a Commission funding, in order to create this one-stop-shop.
To find out more about Vice President Frattini's work please see his website http://www.ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/frattini/index_en.htm