European conference

The Danish Presidency of the European Council, in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Group Europe de l’Enfance and the European Commission, organised a Conference on child poverty and children’s social rights, which took place on 19 and 20 March in Copenhagen. The event can be seen as another step in the run up to the European Child Poverty Recommendation in 2012.

The first session looked at child poverty in EU Member States. Elodie Fazi from the European Commission reminded the audience that 20.5% of children in the EU are at risk of poverty (against 16.4% of the total population). Figures vary across Member States - from 10.9% in Denmark, 11.4% in Finland and 12.6% in Slovenia to 26.6% in Latvia, 26.8% in Bulgaria and 31.3% in Romania. In her presentation she referred to children at higher risk of poverty looking at household compositions, parents labour market participation and social transfers amongst other aspects of child poverty.

Marta Mauras, Vice president of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, recalled that fighting child poverty requires a multi-dimensional approach since child poverty is not only about income inequality, but also structural discrimination. She reminded EU Member States that the UNCRC has emphasised the need to develop national strategies for unacompanied children, migrants, Roma and abandoned and neglected children, particularly in Central and Eastern European Countries, where abandoned children account for 32%, according to a recent study.

ESN expressed its concern with the most disadvantaged and socially excluded children (children with disabilities or mental health problems, children in alternative care, children at risk of neglect/abuse, undocumented child migrants/asylum seekers, Roma and traveller children). In ESN’s view, the Recommendation should stand up for these children and the services that aim to help them, as we highlighted in the stakeholders consultation on 14 December 2011 and in our position paper.