Experts’ supporting document to the "Bucharest EU Children's Declaration"
Exploring what the EU can do to promote the participation of children in decision-making
Building capacity and setting the agenda
The means of progressing the journey are located within EU institutions but there is an urgent need to build capacity in these institutions: to raise awareness and develop understanding amongst civil servants and parliamentarians; to build a culture of listening and taking seriously the views and opinions of children living in the Union; and ultimately thereby, to recognise the accountability of the EU to realise its obligations to children.
The EU should establish a clear road map or agenda for fulfilling its obligations (as set out in the UNCRC and its own Charter of Fundamental Rights) on the right of the child to be heard in all matters that affect them. That is, their right to express views and opinions and to have those views taken into account when decisions are made. The road map should be developed in consultation with children, member states, and civil society; be delivered by the European Commission with progress monitored by the European Council (subject to an annual report from the Commission). As with the EU’s Youth Strategy, the strategy should have several goals or objectives (co-produced with children) that drive the Commission’s dialogues with children (see recommendation 3 below).
Staff working in the EU institutions should receive training on children’s right to be heard – how to do it (including engaging with children living in vulnerable situations), why it’s important, the vision, how children can be involved in setting the agenda and the relevance of child participation to the European project. The training should be mandatory across all DGs and there should be sufficient resources allocated both to capacity building and facilitating child participation.
Increase the scope and resourcing of the European Commission’s Children’s Rights Coordinator to support more comprehensive consultations with children on legislative proposals. Information on the proposals will have to be produced in child-friendly formats and consultation methods should include the use of social media and digital platforms as well as face-to-face opportunities with the aim of being inclusive and reaching diverse groups of children not just the elite.