Progressive leaders, academics and activists call for a European Child Union
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 23 million children in the EU were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. On World Children’s Day - November 20 – PES President Sergei Stanishev joins more than 300 prominent figures from the world of politics, academia and civil society in backing a joint call to reduce inequalities in the EU through investment in children's early years.
PES President Sergei Stanishev said:
“Supporting the next generation is always a wise investment. Now, as Europe works to kickstart the recovery, spending for a better future for children and young people is vital.
“Socialists and democrats are fighting to eradicate child poverty and guarantee quality and inclusive early education and care for all children. That is why we produced the Youth Guarantee and Child Guarantee, and why we are making this call today. The EU has a collective duty to invest in the next generation. We must deliver.”
The joint call for a Child Union – organised by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and supported by the PES, PES in the Committee of the Regions, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, and others - is grounded on three objectives:
First, a rapid entry into force of the European Child Guarantee and expand its political and fiscal space. Negotiations are ongoing and all efforts must be made to ensure that it becomes an integral part of EU policy. This includes a dedicated budget of 20 billion Euros and binding financing commitments for the Member States in their ESF+ national programmes.
Second, the development of an investments ecosystem for European children starting with the correct planning of the Next Generation EU funding. The Child Union should become a fundamental pillar in Europe’s recovery strategy. This requires re-calibrating National Recovery Plans towards the care services of Europe’s future generations.
Third, guaranteed equal access to quality and inclusive early childhood education and care for all. European law should ensure child rights and legal entitlements with universal and affordable public provisions for all and dedicated resources for disadvantaged and at-risk children.
Before the pandemic, 23 million children in the EU were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Since then, financial difficulties and disruption in educational and care services have added additional strain to European families.
Overwhelming evidence shows that inequalities in life chances are formed early in life and are largely passed on through generations. A study led by FEPS and partners finds that European 0 to 3 year old children from the bottom 40% socio-economic status are about 15% more likely to attain average scores once teenagers if they have access to childcare at the age of 1 or 2.
Progressives are fighting to provide quality and inclusive services, care and education in early years in Europe as the means to reduce inequalities and eradicate social exclusion.