According to the Committee on Social Affairs, extreme child poverty is far from being eradicated, and has even resumed its expansion before the covid-19 pandemic, confirming the collective failure of public policies to combat this phenomenon.
The report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), adopted today by the committee, recalls that almost 385 million children in the world, i.e., 19.5% of all children, are living in extreme poverty, compared to 9.2% of adults. UNICEF estimates that 22 million children live below the poverty line in Europe and Central Asia, with the report referring in particular to the situation in Armenia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.
“All children in Europe should benefit from universal and free social protection – capable of providing adequate care – and have the right to food,” said the committee, which proposed to member States to waive all VAT taxes on essential food items. In addition, the adopted text recommends setting up in disadvantaged neighborhoods “facilities and programmes necessary for the educational, health, cultural and sporting development” of children living in poverty and adopting “financial measures to help them escape poverty, such as adequate child benefits”.
The child’s best interests, wellbeing and right to be heard must be placed at the heart of public policies to combat extreme poverty by 2030, the parliamentarians underlined. They recalled the need to establish environmental equity while combating the harmful effects of environmental factors on children (“their exposome”).
The committee also welcomed the EU‘s recent initiative to establish a “European Child Guarantee”.
It proposed to carry out a mid-term review in 2026, on the implementation of environmental equity in public policies and the progress of public measures in combating extreme child poverty in Europe, in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1.2 by 2030.