ERGO Reaction to European Child Guarantee and EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child

ERGO Network reacts to European Child Guarantee and the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child

On 24 March 2021, the European Commission released a proposal for a Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee, as well as the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child 2021-2024 for the period 2021-2024. ERGO Network has engaged closely with the run-up of these two initiatives, also as part of the Investing in Children EU Alliance, to ensure that Roma children and their specific concerns were duly incorporated.

The European Child Guarantee aims at providing Member States with guidance and means to support children in need and break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion across generations, through ensuring effective access to healthy nutrition and adequate housing, as well as free early childhood education and care, free education and school-based activities, free healthcare, and at least one free healthy meal a day. We assessed these proposals based on our Input to the European Commission consultation on the Roadmap for a Council Recommendation for a Child Guarantee (October 2020).

ERGO Network warmly welcomes that “children with a minority racial or ethnic background (particularly Roma)” are explicitly included as target group for the scope of the Child Guarantee. Equally positive is that the EU Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Participation and Inclusion is referred to in the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Proposal for a Recommendation, but unfortunately, this link is not reprised in the text of the Recommendation itself. While several references to stigmatisation, segregation and discrimination are included, a clear commitment to fight all forms of discrimination, segregation, bullying, and racism (including antigypsyism) is not mainstreamed throughout the approach, and no specific actions are associated with it. This is a glaring missed opportunity.

We also very much welcome that the approach is explicitly rooted in combatting child poverty and social exclusion, with a focus on children’s rights and wellbeing. We further appreciate that implementation is firmly anchored in the European Semester, with Member States having 6 months to present a National Action Plan and appoint a national Child Guarantee Coordinator to oversee the implementation. Furthermore, they must ensure participation of stakeholders, including children and civil society, and we hope that the necessary support and outreach measures will be put in place for Roma children, Roma communities, and Roma NGOs to be able to engage with these processes on equal footing.

  • Read our full assessment of the proposal for a Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee here.

The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child 2021-2024 aims at addressing persisting and emerging challenges, as well as proposing concrete actions to protect, promote and fulfil children’s rights, so that every child enjoys the same rights and lives free from discrimination and intimidation. We had submitted a detailed Input to the European Commission consultation on the Strategy (November 2020), and we reviewed the Strategy in light of the concerns and demands expressed therein.

ERGO Network salutes the many mentions of Roma children throughout the Strategy, with explicit references to hunger, poverty, school segregation, early school leaving, early childhood education and care, and access to education. While the document points to the enabling conditions on Roma inclusion and poverty reduction that Member States need to fulfil for the next MFF programming period, unfortunately, no concrete link is made in the Strategy with the EU Framework for Roma Equality, Inclusion, and Participation, which is a great missed opportunity. We further welcome that discrimination is highlighted as an important factor affecting children’s wellbeing and their access to rights, while racial and ethnic origin, as well as ethnic minorities, are also named several times. Sadly, there is no priority as such to combat discrimination, and antigypsyism is not referred.

The anchoring of the Strategy in core EU values such as equality, inclusion, gender equality, anti-racism and pluralism is also very positive, as well as identifying the fight against poverty, inequalities and discrimination as prerequisites to enable the active participation of children. We welcome the proposed establishment of the EU Network for Children’s Rights, and express the hope that the specific concerns of Roma children will be included in a participatory manner in this structure, as well as in the proposed annual European Forum on the Rights of the Child, where the Commission will report on progress for implementation, and the future Children’s Participation Platform.

  • Read our full assessment of EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child 2021-2024 here.

ERGO Network and its members will continue to monitor the adoption and implementation processes, at EU and national level, of these two important initiatives. We aim to ensure that Roma children’s voices are being heard, and that appropriate links will be made between children’s rights and wellbeing and the objectives of the EU Roma Strategic Framework.

For more information on our work on Roma child poverty and exclusion, please contact c.tanasie@ergonetwork.org.