The fight against child sexual abuse is a priority for the EU. The EU strategy for the period 2020-2025 sets out a comprehensive response to the growing threat of child sexual abuse both offline and online, by improving prevention, investigation, and assistance to victims.
The EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse includes 8 initiatives to put in place a strong legal framework for the protection of children and facilitate a coordinated approach across the many actors involved in protecting and supporting children.
The 8 initiatives aim to:
The Commission will ensure that the EU has the right legal framework to protect children. Where needed, the Commission will propose new legislation, particularly to clarify the role that online service providers can play to protect children. The Commission will also support national police forces to keep up with technological developments.
The strategy also sets out initiatives to boost coordination, including a prevention network for practitioners and researchers, examining the possibility to create a European Centre to prevent and counter child sexual abuse, cooperating with industry through the EU Internet Forum and supporting the WePROTECT Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation Online.
The strategy will ensure that existing EU rules are fully implemented, particularly Directive on combating sexual abuse and exploitation of children. In 2019, the Commission was compelled to open infringements procedures against 23 EU countries for non-compliance with implementing the directive. They followed the publication of two reports in 2016, which provided an overview on the progress made and showed that the Directive had not yet reached its full potential through complete implementation by the EU countries
The Commission will address possible gaps in the current laws, starting with a study to identify the remaining issues, as well as best practices and priority measures to tackle them.
The Commission will propose new legislation where needed, particularly to clarify the role that online service providers can play to protect children. In 2020, the Commission proposed an interim Regulation to ensure that providers of online communications services can continue their voluntary practices to detect and report child sexual abuse online and remove child sexual abuse material.
The Commission also provides funding for projects fighting child sexual abuse. The Commission has funded, amongst others:
The Commission organises regular calls for proposals to fight the online and offline aspects of child sexual abuse under both Internal Security Fund and Horizon Europe framework program for research and innovation.