This webinar was part of Eurochild’s breakfast webinars to mark World Children’s Day 2020. Nearly 1 in 4 children in the EU were at risk of poverty or social exclusion before the pandemic. With the lockdowns and socio-economic crisis hitting poorest families particularly hard, pushing more people into poverty, and deepening pre-existing divides, it is imperative to analyse which are the measures to be taken to prevent and reduce child poverty. The webinar looked at how the European Child Guarantee initiative can help address this growing challenge and brought the perspective of the Spanish government, which has made the fight against child poverty a particular priority.
Pedro Sanchez Prime Minister of Spain set the mood of the discussion with a very strong message on how Spain is prioritising children in the recovery strategy. “There is no shame in acknowledging child poverty exists in our countries. But it would be shameful if we did not take ambitious measures to combat it.” Ernesto José Gasco Gonzalo, High Commissioner for the Fight against Child Poverty, Spain also spoke later on how Spain is prioritising the fight against child poverty, and how they are consulting children on policies affecting them.
Katarina Ivanković Knežević, Director, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission highlighted that a result of the pandemic, more children are experiencing poverty than before, with poorest children getting even poorer. Investment in children and in the services they need, she stressed, is essential for a sustainable and inclusive recovery. In 2021, the Commission will launch the European Child Guarantee to provide a policy framework to reduce poverty and inequalities among children, and to ensure that children in need have access to the services and the support they need.
Petra Mackroth, Head of Directorate-General Family Affairs at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth of Germany highlighted that Germany wants all EU Member States to prioritise the reduction of child poverty during their Presidency of the EU Council. She also announced that the trio presidencies of Germany Portugal and Slovenia are preparing a joint declaration on mitigating the COVID-19 crisis to support children in the recovery strategies.
Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and the Special Coordinator for the Refuge and Migrant Response in Europe highlighted that UNICEF, like Eurochild, believes that children should be at the heart of the recovery and that the role of civil society is crucial for putting children first.It is important to adopt a comprehensive approach and this can be achieved through the Child Guarantee Action Plans and multiannual national strategies to tackle child poverty.
Mariam and Ángel from the youth journalist network of Plataforma de Infancia spoke to their Prime Minister and all present on how children are not just the future they are the present.