EUROPE: A special place for children in the EU?
The European Parliament adopted a report by Glenys Kinnock (PES; UK), welcoming the Commission's Communication on “A Special Place for Children in EU External Action” and the accompanying Council Conclusions as "important steps forward towards an EU strategy on the Rights of the Child", but underlines that "much remains to be done to put the political commitments into practice".
The report notes that despite the recent positive developments at EU level, the EU institutions and staff resources devoted to children’s rights remain inadequate. MEPs stress that "none of the plans will be realised unless adequate funding is available".
More funding needed
MEPs believe that the participation of children must be institutionalised and better funded in partner countries and at EU level. They insist that the general budget support of the EU should include funds for capacity- building for relevant ministries (such as Ministries of Welfare, Health, Education and Justice) to ensure that they have the appropriate policies and tools to budget and implement services for children.
Welcoming the Commission's plan to address education in its humanitarian aid operations, the report calls for sufficient funding and staffing at EU level to implement the new policy commitment.
The report also urges Member States to fulfil their pledges "to provide adequate, predictable funding through timetabled budgetary aid designed to meet the 2010 benchmarks".
Agreements with third countries should protect children
Turning to third countries, MEPs stress that children's rights must be systematically included in the EU's political dialogue and policy discussions with partner countries, and all EU policies with a likely effect on children in third countries should be subject to consistent child rights impact assessments prior to their adoption.
They call on the Commission to draw up a report examining whether the existing international agreements between the European Union and third countries already contain a legally binding clause on the protection of children's rights and, if not, whether such a clause could be inserted into agreements.
The Commission and Member States are also asked to support institutional structures in partner countries to protect and promote children’s rights, including independent ombudspersons.
Consumers have the power to limit child labour
Observing that purchasers in the developing world "are in a key position" to "bring direct and effective economic pressure" on organisations that use child labour, MEPs call on the European Community and Member States to provide more support to fair trade and labelling initiatives which encourage companies not to use child labour. It recommends that compliance with voluntary codes of conduct regarding core labour rights should be better controlled and made transparent to European consumers.
MEPs also urge the Commission to propose a uniform method for labelling products imported into the European Union so as to certify that they have been manufactured without the use of child labour at each stage in the chain of production, for example, by placing the indication 'without child labour' on the packaging of the products in question. This would ensure that this system is in line with the WTO's international trade rules.
For more information, contact:
Rue Wiertz 60, B-1047 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: + 32 2 284 2111
Fax: + 32 2 230 6664
Source Child Rights Information Network 24 February 2009