More than one child in four in the European Union (EU) is at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The poverty rate for children is higher than that for any other age group, though it varies widely across Member States (MS).
Over the past decade, exchanges between EU institutions, MS and civil society have led to a consensus on many aspects of the combat against child poverty. All agree that the multiple dimensions of child poverty should be taken into account; that the approach should be based on children’s rights; and that there should be a balance between universal measures and support targeted at specific groups of people who are most at risk.
There is also broad support for a ‘three pillar’ action plan, focusing on ensuring children’s access to resources; their access to essential services; and their participation in activities and decision-making that affects them.
In February 2013, the European Commission published a Recommendation on child poverty and exclusion which summarises the consensus. Since tackling child poverty and exclusion can produce benefits (and reduce social costs) in the future, this forms part of the Commission’s Social Investment package. Implementation will depend primarily on MS, some of which are currently making considerable efforts to reduce budget deficits, including making reforms to social spending.