The rights of the child are part of human rights: rights that the EU and EU Member States must respect, protect and fulfil.
Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union establishes the objective for the EU to promote protection of the rights of the child.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU guarantees the protection of the rights of the child by the EU institutions and by EU countries when they implement EU law. Article 24 on the rights of the child and Article 32 on the prohibition of child labour specifically cover children's rights.
As laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a child is any human being below the age of 18.
The Commission is guided by the principles set out in the UN Convention on the rights of the child, ratified by all EU countries.
In June 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on the rights of the child, with a particular focus on the protection of children’s rights in crisis or emergency situation. The Council calls on member states to develop comprehensive policies to fulfil the rights of all children without any discrimination, to increase efforts to prevent and combat all forms of violence against children, to strengthen justice systems so that they are compliant with the rights of children, and to increase opportunities for children to be responsible and resilient members of the digital society.
Coordinator for the rights of the child
The position of the Commission coordinator for the rights of the child was set up in 2007 as a result of the 2006 Communication "Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child". Marie-Cécile Rouillon, who was appointed in March 2022, coordinates work among all the departments of the Commission to make sure that the rights of the child are properly considered in all relevant policies and actions. The team also works on training activities for colleagues.
Former Commission coordinators for the rights of the child: Valeria Setti (2018-2022); Margaret Tuite (2011 - 2018); Anna Zito (2008 - 2011); Patrick Trousson (2007 - 2008).
EU Network for children’s rights
Officially launched by Vice-President Šuica on 31 March 2022, the aim of the Network is to reinforce the dialogue and mutual learning between the EU and Member States on children’s rights. It supports the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child.
The network is composed of national representatives, and includes in some of its activities children, international organisations, NGOs, representatives of local and regional authorities and other relevant stakeholders.
It was built on the former Informal expert group on the rights of the child.
Funding on the rights of the child
EU funding is key to support the implementation of EU policies in the Member States
The rights, equality and citizenship programme 2014-2020 was replaced in 2021 by the Citizenship, Equality, Rights and Values. It aims to promote the rights of the child and prevent violence against children, young people, women and other groups at risk.
Other EU funds that can be used to protect and promote the rights of the child:
- The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)
- The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
- The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund
- Horizon Europe
- The Digital Programme
- The Recovery and Resilience Facility
- The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
- Invest EU
- The Technical Support Instrument