The right to be heard
Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that: "Children(…) may express their views freely. Such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity."
The right of all children to be heard and have their views taken seriously in accordance with their age and maturity is also laid down in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC).
The European Commission promotes and protects the child's right to be heard in its legislation and policies. Children are agents of change the Commission wants to support them in contributing to changes. Children were consulted on the strategy with the help of the leading child rights organisations and will be involved in the implementation and monitoring of the strategy.
EU actions to empower children to be active citizens and members of democratic societies
Under the EU Strategy on the rights of the child, the Commission committed to:
- establish, jointly with the European Parliament and child rights organisations, an EU Children’s Participation Platform, to connect existing child participation mechanisms at local, national and EU level, and involve children in the decision-making processes at EU level.
- create space for children to become active participants of the European Climate Pact through pledges or by becoming Pact Ambassadors. By involving schools in sustainable climate, energy and environment education, the Education for Climate Coalition will help children to become agents of change in the implementation of the Climate Pact and the European Green Deal
- develop and promote accessible, digitally inclusive and child friendly versions and formats of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and other key EU instruments;
- develop and promote guidelines on the use of child friendly language in documents and in stakeholders’ events and meetings with child participants;
- include children within the Fundamental Rights Forum of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the Conference on the future of Europe;
- conduct child-specific consultations for relevant future initiatives
- strengthen expertise and practice on child participation among Commission staff and the staff of EU agencies, including on child protection policies and safeguarding policies.
Writing documents with and for children
1 in 5 persons in the EU is a child. Worldwide, 1 in 3. And yet, only a small number of policy and legal documents is written in a child friendly language and is accessible for children with disabilities. Even when the legislation or policy directly affects their lives. Understanding what such documents are about is the first step to be able to talk about them and participate in decision-making processes.
Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union says that children have the right to express their views freely and that their views should be taken into account. Following this and article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, the 2021 EU Strategy on the rights of the child proposed actions to better translate the child’s right to be heard into action. To this end, the strategy was produced in a child friendly language and in a format accessible for children with disabilities and a special guide on how to do it is now ready to be used. Both, the simplified versions of the strategy and the guide, were drafted together with children.
The guide illustrates the process, the methodology of consulting children on policy and legal documents and gives practical examples of commonly used simpler words (glossary), with icons and Alt- text that are ready to be used. It contains as well an editable template of an consent form for children and their parents/carers.