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Ending child poverty in Europe

Doc. 13458: compendium of written amendments | Doc. 13458 | Provisional version

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ADraft Resolution

1Child poverty is creeping back into Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly is appalled about the regular reports coming from various countries of Europe about undernourished children, children being left without parental care by parents who are obliged to find employment abroad, and the resurgence of child labour, not to mention lower participation and performance rates of many children in secondary education. It is also concerned about the extent to which children living without parental care or suffering from neglect also encounter higher risks of exploitation, violence and abuse.
2Whilst such phenomena could unfortunately always be observed in Europe, the recent economic and financial crisis challenging Europe since 2008, which has undermined social protection systems in multiple ways, has further accentuated the vulnerable situation of many children and continues to have a considerable impact on their well-being and equal opportunities for development.
3Comprehensive strategies and targets aimed at eradicating child poverty have been drawn up at European and national levels. However, their implementation is currently lagging far behind expectations and the actual needs of children. One of the major challenges from now on will therefore be to fill the gap between brilliant strategies and the daily reality of European children.
4Some of the root causes of child poverty are not easily tackled through targeted measures in favour of children and need to be addressed through general economic and social policies, linked to economic recovery and the development of countries facing difficulties such as high rates of unemployment or low paid work.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 4, insert the following words: "This will also be essential to interrupt the "cycle of poverty" that many families are caught in, thus passing on the conditions of poverty and a lack of equal opportunities from one generation to the next."

5With a view to implementing European and national strategies against child poverty in the most effective manner, the Assembly urges member States to:
5.1ensure that the aim of ending child poverty is given sufficient political weight and priority, including in dedicating adequate budgetary resources to social protection systems to make them effective, and that clear objectives and targets are set at the national level;
5.2as regards member States also members of the European Union, implement in the most committed manner possible the European Commission Recommendation on “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage”, adopted on 20 February 2013, by rigorously following the very pragmatic guidelines it contains;
5.3take inspiration from this comprehensive European Union standard and promote and apply measures against child poverty along the following lines:
5.3.1allow families to access adequate resources by supporting parents’ participation in the labour market and ensuring adequate living standards;

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5.3.1, insert the following words: ", including through appropriate levels of social benefits".

5.3.2reduce inequality at a young age by: in early childhood education and care; the education systems’ impact on equal opportunities; the responsiveness of health systems to address the needs of disadvantaged children; children with safe and adequate living environments; family support and the quality of alternative care;
5.3.3promote children’s right to participate in recreation, sport and cultural activities as well as in decision-making that affects their lives;
5.4mobilise knowledge and public and private funds at the European level in order to ensure material security and equal opportunities for all children;
5.5implement national policies by following transversal approaches involving, wherever appropriate, different national ministries and departments, in order to ensure greatest effectiveness in the implementation of policies fighting child poverty;
5.6especially in the current times of budgetary austerity, closely supervise and assess any social expenditure cuts with regard to the possible impact on the well-being of children; target social benefits to those most in need;
5.7with regard to children belonging to particularly vulnerable groups (such as migrants, children with disabilities or people living in remote rural areas), take specific measures to improve data collection and monitoring, to put an end to any discrimination and to guarantee these children the same rights and support as all children in a given country;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.7, after the word "migrants", insert the following words: "and refugees".

5.8wherever appropriate, ensure that local authorities, who are in the first line of contact with disadvantaged groups of the population and have competences in providing social services, have a sufficient level of resources dedicated to these services, and in particular to the support provided to poor families and to child protection and welfare;
5.9support further research into the reasons for and means of fighting child poverty and contribute, wherever appropriate, to the development of common pan-European indicators monitoring the outcome of public investments and services for children and their families, as well as to rigorously apply such indicators to national policies;
5.10participate, wherever possible, in international exchanges on the issue of child poverty so as to learn from good practice.

BDraft Recommendation

1The Parliamentary Assembly, referring to its Resolution … (2014) on ending child poverty in Europe, once again welcomes the commitment of the Council of Europe to children’s human rights and child protection, most recently manifested in the Council of Europe's Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015.
2The Assembly notes that, in the framework of the current strategy, the issue of child poverty is covered under the third strategic objective on “guaranteeing the rights of children in vulnerable situations” as a factor rendering children even more vulnerable than they are already. The Assembly considers, however, that child poverty should be given more prominence when it comes to the implementation of the strategy.
3Many child-oriented services offered at national level, including at the local level, are confronted with budgetary restrictions which may have a direct impact on the quality of such services and their delivery. In the future, the participation of children will have to play a greater role, in order to better target social services and increase their effectiveness by identifying which ones are truly needed by children.
4With the purpose of reinforcing the well-being of children and the protection of their rights at the European level, the Assembly therefore invites the Committee of Ministers to:
4.1give greater priority to the issue of child poverty when preparing and adopting the Council of Europe strategy for the rights of the child beyond 2015, in particular as regards guaranteeing the rights of children in vulnerable situations and the promotion of child participation;
4.2invite its different governmental bodies relating to children’s rights to pay special attention to the current economic context and the particular situation of children living in poverty when implementing the current Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015;
4.3pay the same attention to the context in the implementation of Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)2 on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18, Recommendation CM/Rec(2011)12 on children’s rights and social services friendly to children and families, and the Guidelines on child-friendly health care (2011) and on child friendly justice (2010);
4.4invite the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to contribute to activities in this field alongside the governmental sector and the Parliamentary Assembly, given that local and regional authorities are important stakeholders when it comes to implementing social policies and services aimed at families and children.