BUCHAREST, May 7th 2019 - Over 60 children across the European Union and dozens of child rights experts, European high-level officials and civil society representatives are attending “Children's Participation in Decision-Making and Policy-Making at European Union level” international conference taking place in Bucharest on 6 and 7 May which lays the foundations for child consultation mechanisms that will enable children to participate in EU decisions.
The event is organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice through the National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and Adoption with UNICEF support, as part of the official calendar of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council.
“When speaking about the future of Europe, it is time to make children’s right to participate a priority and a reality. Their participation will shape the future of the European Union in a more sustainable manner. I’m proud Romania puts down on the European agenda child participation and I count on the support of the future Presidencies to transform it into action,” said Ana Birchall, Vice Prime Minister for Romania's Strategic Partnerships' Implementation.
One in five European citizens is a child or a young person. Taking into account the children's right to be consulted and to participate actively in the decision-making processes that concern them, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, their involvement in debates defining the future of Europe is a priority for the Government of Romania during the Presidency of the EU Council.
“The right to participation is one of the fundamental children’s rights and respecting it is a duty every adult has. Therefore, I am glad the “Bucharest Children’s Declaration”, a document meant to support just that, child participation in the decision-making processes regarding themselves, was developed during Romania’s Presidency at the Council of the European Union. I wish that the “Bucharest Children’s Declaration” will lay out the foundation of a mechanism through which children’s opinion becomes a constant component of decision-making processes at EU level”, said Marius Budăi, Minister of Labour and Social Justice.
The Bucharest EU Children's declaration is adopted during the conference, a document that was written by a Board of children from Romania, especially made for this purpose, and disscussed all around Europe through the network of UNICEF, Eurochild, Save the Children, The Federation of Child Protection NGO's, European associations of high school students in order to obtain support and feedback from many different categories of children.
The document was created through a complex consultation process that involved both international experts and representatives of European Institutions regarding children’s rights.
“We are dreaming of a European community that enables and encourages the involvement of children in decision-making. Why? Because we want to be consulted on issues that influence our lives directly, both as citizens of our respective countries and as Europeans. Because we are a significant part of Europe’s population and we are writing our own story”, the preliminary version of the document reads.
The Declaration is an instrument that can mobilize European institutions and member states to establish formal structures and mechanisms that will promote children's right to participation in accordance with the EU Recommendation “Investing in children”, the Fundamental Rights Carta of the EU and UN Convention on the Rights of Children.
“Children and adolescents are a key resource for the future of the EU. Raising their awareness regarding the EU, actively engaging them in EU affairs, and galvanizing their creativity and ownership in the EU policy and decision-making processes will help lay the foundation for a stronger Europe," said Pieter Bult, the UNICEF Representative in Romania.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Justice, through the National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and Adoption, collaborates with UNICEF in Romania for strengthening the involvement of the children in the process of adopting and elaborating policies, at EU level, dedicated to them. To make this happen, general rules and structural mechanisms need to be established, which will enable a real involvement of the children in debates and decision-making processes that can shape the future of the European Union.
“We are grateful to all the children for the enthusiastic involvement they had in the developing process of the "Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration" and I hope this is only the beginning of a new chapter regarding their participation in making the decisions that involve them,” said Gabriela Coman, President of the National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and Adoption.
The "Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration" is a reference to define the Rights of Children and acknowledge young people’s right to participate in decision making processes, including adopting policies that contribute to the future of the European Union.
Following the event, the "Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration" will be presented to Ministry Representatives and Authorities dealing with children’s issues from all 28 EU Member States. The Declaration will also be shared widely with children’s rights experts, specialists from European Institutions and the European Parliament.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.