Children are European Citizens too - Children and the future of Europe

Summary: The European Children's Network, EURONET, has submitted to the members of the European Convention its proposal to include an article on children’s rights in the next EU Treaty.

The European Children's Network, EURONET, has submitted to  the members of the European Convention its proposal to include an article on children’s rights in the next EU Treaty.

This week, the United Nations General Assembly holds a Special Session on Children (8-10 May 2002) in New York, an unprecedented meeting of the UN dedicated to the children and adolescents of the world. Member States of the UN are expected to adopt a wide-ranging series of goals at this global conference, what will place children back at the top of the world's agenda The Convention on the future of the EU enters its 3rd plenary session (23-24 May) setting out to focus on the instruments needed for the EU to carry out its mission. However, even the Youth Convention set up by the member of the convention is not including children under the age of 18.

EURONET believes it is time to tackle the issue of the “invisibility” of more than 90 million European citizens, its children, in the EU legal texts. The convention should ensure that the European union also means something for children and include in the revised EU treaty the principle of the best interests of the child Euronet is concerned with the lack of expression of children's rights in the European Union Treaties:

  • All EU member states have ratified and are bound to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). However, the EU, which passes legislation with direct, or indirect bearing on children’s lives, is under no such obligation.
  • A major flaw of the Treaties on the EU is that they do not incorporate respect for the rights of the child. In EU law children are seen as “victims” or “dependents” or “barriers to work.” The legal status of the child in the EU Treaty is unclear and when a child-related legal measure is adopted, it is only in an ad hoc manner.
  • EU legislation becomes increasingly complex and risks affecting children in a negative way.

A democratic Europe has to guarantee the participation of all, including its children. EURONET had drafted a series of proposals to allow for the inclusion of children legal status in the revised EU treaty. These proposals consider 3 key issues:

  • The General recognition of children’s rights in the EU Treaty textshould be inspired by the principles and provisions of the UNConvention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
  • Extending the EU’s practice for youth to the children. The EU Treaty refers to youth with respect to education and vocational training. The EU institutions and member states define youth asage 15 until 24, although no rationale has ever been given for this. According to the UN Convention children are defined as those below the age of 18.
  • A legal base for children would mainstream a child perspective in all EU actions, within the existing competencies of the EU.

Children are European citizens too, and should be treated as such. The promotion of children’s participation in the design of the "future of Europe" not only seeks the protection of our children, but also to contribute to a social Europe with the involvement of all its citizens.

Euronet's Position Paper is available in English and French and the summary will be available in all EU languages.

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