In the next months, the European Union institutions will present several significant instruments which will focus on the protection of children’s rights and well-being.
These frameworks have the potential to change how children’s rights are realised within and outside the European Union and, consequently, have a significant impact on the lived experiences of all children and on our work.
As the pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on children’s lives, these instruments represent a key political momentum for civil society organisations to enhance the protection of children and their human rights.
The Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights is a document aiming to implement the 20 Principles of the Social Pillar. It will detail the actions the EU will take in the next years and includes several recommendations for Member States to ensure a more social Europe. The Action Plan will be a broad document covering multiple areas, such as employment, skills, social services, inclusion, etc.
- 4 March 2021: The Action Plan is published by the European Commission
- It immediately enters into force
- Expected timeframe: 2021-2024 (mandate of this European Commission)
The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child is a document outlining the goals and commitments of the European Union, as represented by the European Commission, on the rights of the child. It will set the EU priorities in several areas pertaining to children’s rights and how they will be part of various EU policies – such as employment and social policy, but also justice, education, health, external action, and others. The document is not binding, but carries political weight – mostly for the EU institutions, and includes some recommendations to EU Member States as well.
- 24 March 2021: Launch by European Commission
- It immediately enters into force.
- Second half of 2021: there could be a possible Council Conclusions on the Strategy under the Slovenian Presidency (TBC)
- The strategy official’s timeframe goes from 2021-2024, but the principles and framework set out in the document will influence the EU policies even after this term.
The Child Guarantee is a targeted EU initiative aimed specifically at tackling child poverty by ensuring that every child in Europe has access to six essential services; housing, nutrition, healthcare, education and childcare, culture and leisure activities. The initiative will particularly focus on vulnerable children and those experiencing poverty. Published in the form of a Council Recommendation, it will not be legally binding for the EU Member States, but will certify a strong political commitment to combating child poverty, and trigger national action on this issue.
One of its most powerful levers of impact is through the allocation of funding for the actions in the Recommendation. According to the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council, Member States with a level of child poverty above the EU average (23,4% – AROPE 2017 – 2019) will indeed have to allocate 5% of their European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) resources to tackle child poverty, while all the other Member States have to allocate an appropriate amount of their ESF+ resources to combat child poverty. EU Member States should also use different EU resources to combat child poverty, such as the Asylum and Migration Fund, InvestEU, Erasmus Plus, and Horizon Europe.
- 24 March 2021: Launch of European Commission proposal. Start of negotiation period within the Council.
- 24 March 2021 – June 2021 (expected): Negotiations on the text. The Council of the European Union considers the proposal, and Member States introduce possible amendments. If an agreement is not reached by June, the file will be probably negotiated once again under the Slovenian Presidency (July-December 2021)
- June 2021 (expected): The Council of the European Union adopts a Council Recommendation on an EU Child Guarantee. Document enters into force.
- 2021 (expected): Start of implementation (TBC)
- Expected to be tied to the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (TBC)
The National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) are a new instrument that the EU Member States are developing in the framework of the European Semester process to react to the COVID-19 crisis. As explained in our policy briefing, the Plans outline the initiatives in which each government plans to invest to recover from the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Ongoing: Member States are drafting their Recovery and Resilience Plans
- 30 April 2021: Deadline for Member States to submit their plans to the European Commission.
- May – June 2021: The European Commission reviews the plans and provides feedback to Member States; The European Parliament also has a right to provide comments, even though not binding
- April – August 2021: After review, the European Commission approves the Plans and publishes decisions
The Conference on the Future of Europe is an EU initiative that aims to get citizens involved in a wide-ranging debate on Europe’s future in the coming decade and beyond, including in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Planned to be launched on the 9th of May 2021, and to run for one year, it is expected to create a space for discussion, debate, and formulation of ideas of what the future of the EU should look like – this debate will happen both on EU and national level.
- 9 May 2021: Launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe (TBC)
- 2021 – 2022: The conference takes place with events at the EU, national, and local level
- 2022: The outcome of the Conference is reflected as a report to the European Council