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Intensification of efforts to tackle child poverty and social exclusion are needed

04/09/2017
Intensification of efforts to tackle child poverty and social exclusion are needed © My Life Graphic / Shutterstock

A Synthesis Report from the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) on Progress across Europe in the implementation of the 2013 EU Recommendation on ‘Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ has just been published.

Based on the reports written by each of the 35 ESPN Country Teams, it concludes that, while there has been modest progress in the direction outlined in the Recommendation over the past four years, this has been insufficient to address the scale of child poverty and social exclusion in many countries. Particularly worrying is the very limited progress that has been made in many of the countries with (very) high levels of child poverty or social exclusion.

Improvements are most evident in the areas of early childhood education and care (ECEC) and encouraging parents’ participation in the labour market.  More use is being made of EU financial instruments to support children’s social inclusion. However, addressing child poverty and social exclusion and child well-being in the European Semester has only been strengthened in a few countries. Housing and living environment is the area of least progress.

The ESPN Synthesis Report concludes that a significant intensification of effort is required to achieve the aims of the EU Recommendation. It makes a series of detailed overall recommendations for strengthening its implementation and links them to the implementation of the European Pillar on Social Rights put forward by the European Commission. These cover:

  • strengthening political leadership;
  • developing a roadmap for action;
  • monitoring of and reporting on progress;
  • mainstreaming children in the European Semester and EU policy making in general;
  • linking this process to other related international processes;
  • improving civil dialogue;
  • increasing use of EU financial instruments;
  • enhancing exchange and learning of good practices and
  • awareness raising.

Concrete actions are also recommended for individual countries. Four areas recur frequently:

  • developing more comprehensive, strategic and coordinated approaches (including mainstreaming children’s rights in (sub-)national policy making);
  • better targeting of high risk groups such as Roma and immigrant children;
  • increasing the accessibility and quality of ECEC services and
  • addressing inequalities and access issues in schools.