Children make up a third of the world’s population, but seldom come first with the world's politicians. In Europe, 20% of minors live below the poverty line and many lack access to basic rights. To combat this problem, the Treaty of Lisbon made the protection of minors an objective for all EU policies. In order to pursue this goal, last week the Parliament constituted the "Alliance for Children". EP Vice-President Roberta Angelilli, who is promoting the initiative, told us more.
Why did you create the "alliance" and who will participate?
The goal of the Alliance is to defend minors in internal and external policies, mainstreaming their rights in all the actions and programs of the EU. The group has the support of UNICEF and other non-governmental organisations committed to the defence of children. It is backed by the presidents of seven EP committees (Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Development, Women, Culture and Petitions). Now we want to extend it to more members, because the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights acknowledge children as full citizens of the EU, and therefore give us the possibility to transpose this principle into law.
What is your first priority?
The list is long, but the first is to discuss the recent communication by Commissioner Reding on "child friendly justice", a package that includes measures on the abduction of minors, non-accompanied children, protection within the family and the help for children who are victims of violence.
Children everywhere are vulnerable, but are luckier in Europe than in the rest of the world. Do you plan to help minors in the developing world?
There are still many problems in Europe that need to be resolved, for example children dropping out of school early (a rising trend in many member states), Roma children, unaccompanied children, and new forms of poverty , which affect, first of all, children. Of course there are enormous issues in the rest of the world, from soldier-children to exploitation by organised crime and child labour and we will also work with NGOs to promote programs and policies for developing countries. But we have to start with Europe because here we have more power to impose obligations on the member states and therefore to make a difference.
1.2 billion adolescents (10-19) worldwide
90% in developing countries
40-50% of those trafficked are children
EU hotline for missing children - 116000