22 May 2024

EU elections

Introduction, The decisions of the European Union (EU) – its legislation, policy, practices and funding – have a crucial impact on children’s lives inside and outside the region. The European Parliament elections, 6-9 June 2024, will be key for the adoption of new policies, reforms and investments supporting the child rights agenda. At the EU level,…, What UNICEF is asking for, Without political will and buy-in from EU decision makers, recent progress made for children could stall or even regress. Taking into account the situation of children both within the EU and globally, as well as the EU’s ambition to fight poverty, reduce inequalities, adapt to climate change, and uphold human rights, UNICEF had three main messages…, Children's rights infographic 1. Champion children’s rights, The EU must continue to champion and set high standards for children’s rights in its internal and external actions to fight child poverty and ensure social protection; address the learning crisis and transform education; ensure children are healthy and well nourished; and protect children from all forms of abuse and exploitation, both online and…, Make the Money work Infographic 2. Make the money work for children, The current level of investment in Europe’s internal and global actions will not be sufficient to respond to challenges and provide children in the EU and globally with the opportunities to live in the world they want. European money must work for children., Strengthen Governance 3. Strengthen governance for children, The rolling out of the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child calls for stronger governance across EU institutions - especially the Commission and the Parliament - in support of the rights of children, including their participation.  UNICEF Infographic, How much do political parties prioritize children?, UNICEF undertook an analysis of how the main political parties in the EU are planning to support the underrepresented and often unheard EU constituency of children. We did this by reviewing the manifestos of nine EU political parties to assess how they have prioritized children. The nine manifestos analyzed were: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats…, 1. Stronger protection for children, Policy suggestions for protecting the rights of the child are evident in the majority of the manifestos (seven out of nine) with a focus on child protection in different areas. A key concern for a number of the parties is the protection of children in the online space and digital world, as well as their empowerment through digital education. The…, 2. Better care for children and support for parents, Improving childcare and making caring for children easier is a strong theme across the various party manifestos. This includes calls for increased financial support to caregivers. A call for quality care structures for children, including those with disabilities, is present in four of the manifestos. Family-friendly work policies, for example…, 3. Eradication of child poverty, A key theme across manifestos is the aim to tackle child poverty and implement the European Child Guarantee. While poverty is a theme in seven of the manifestos, the issue of child poverty was specifically identified in five. This includes related calls to accelerate implementation of the European Child Guarantee and support it with adequate…, 4. Investment in education and mental health, Education is a common thread across the party manifestos and is mentioned in all but one. Access to education and related investments in learning cut across the manifestos. A key area is digital education, which five manifestos reference. Digital equity is also stressed, whereby digital technology in education must respect, and avoid exacerbating…, 5. Enhanced youth participation and stronger child governance, Ensuring that children and young people participate in and have a say on issues that concern them is key for the realization of child rights. Several manifestos reference the importance of youth participation in the EU’s decision-making processes (four manifestos). Empowering young people as decision makers by standing as candidates in elections…, 6. Placing children’s rights and needs within the discussions on future generations, Parties which have called for a new approach to policy making on the rights of future generations took into account the rights and interests of younger children. Concerns for future generations and intergenerational justice are present in a majority of the political manifestos (seven). Overall, there is a willingness to improve intergenerational…, Conclusion, Investment in children has proven to generate high social and economic returns. While there is an increased awareness of children across political parties, it is unfortunate that policies for children are not as much of a focus for political parties as policies on youth. One possible explanation for this could be that children are not yet voters…
16 February 2024

Report: The State of Children in the European Union

The EU is one of the most equal and prosperous regions in the world. Yet, the rights of far too many children within its borders are under threat or even denied. Too many children in the EU face persistently high rates of poverty and social exclusion, mental health challenges, and environmental dangers such as air pollution. UNICEF's report The State of Children in the European Union summarizes analyses by UNICEF on child well-being and progress for children in the European Union (EU) during the period of the current EU legislature, 2019-2024, and identifies key issues for the next political cycle. The report is accompanied by four policy briefs covering: Policy brief 1: Child poverty Child poverty is not only about the amount of money that families have but also whether children’s basic needs (e.g., food, shelter) are met and whether they have access to essential services (e.g., health, education). Policy brief 2: Mental health Mental health is inherently positive; it is more than the absence of distress. Rather, it entails a state of positive psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Globally, almost one billion people are living with a mental health condition, including more than one in seven adolescents. Policy brief 3: Environment Children’s current and future well-being is fundamentally shaped by the environment in which they grow up. This includes a range of factors in the natural environment including homes, schools and local areas, green spaces, as well as broader issues such as the impacts of climate change. Policy brief 4: Digital technologies The lives of everyone have been transformed by the revolution in digital technologies over the past two decades. Digital technologies bring huge benefits for children and young people, but also present them with risks and challenges.