EuroHealthNet welcomes the report on child poverty adopted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament

The own-initative report on “Reducing inequalities with a special focus on child poverty[1] was adopted today by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. The report - by rapporteur Inês Cristina Zuber MEP - makes several recommendations that could make a real contribution to reducing child poverty and improving health equity. These recommendations are also in line with the evidence from DRIVERS[2] research, a FP7 project coordinated by EuroHealthNet.

The recommendations include: 1) to increase the quantity, scope and effectiveness of social support directed towards children and parents; 2) to develop proactive social policies at the national level that prevent poverty and support children in their family environment; and 3) to guarantee universal, free and high-quality health care and education for children. Other points of accord with DRIVERS include the promotion of parenting and family support, high-quality early childhood care and education, good healthcare in the pre- and postnatal periods.

The report denounces the harmful effects of the financial crisis, which has led to an increase in poverty[3]. This increase has particularly impacted on children and young people[4] – for instance in terms of cutbacks to education, childcare and social protection seen in many EU member states. Likewise, the transfer of poverty between generations[5] is highlighted, pointing to the inadequacy of current approaches and the potential for the increase in poverty to be ‘institutionalised’ within the structures of European societies. Finally, Zuber correctly focuses on the detrimental effects of the gender pay gap, which has pronounced effects on single-parent families that are usually headed by women[6]. All of these contribute to child poverty, reduced chances early on in the life course of living a healthy life, and a reduction in equal opportunities for children.

Despite the Commission’s reassurance that the issue of child poverty has been sufficiently taken into account in the European Semester – in particular in the Country Specific Recommendations (CSR) – EuroHealthNet’s 2015 CSR assessment actually found that not enough emphasis is placed on early investments in early child development or on encouraging early interventions to sustain health[7]. More worryingly, the recommendations pertaining to children and families often identified child poverty as a major problem but then failed to propose solutions to tackle it.

We therefore strongly support the recommendations in “Reducing inequalities with a special focus on child poverty” and hopes that it paves the way for a more adequate response from the EU institutions to reduce child poverty and social exclusion and improve health equity” says Caroline Costongs, Managing Director EuroHealthNet. We are part of the EU Alliance for Investing in Children[8] that is urging all Members of the European Parliament to show their support to ending the cycle of disadvantage by signing a Written Declaration on investing in children[9]

The Written Declaration is launched by 11 Members of the European Parliament and calls upon the European Commission to introduce specific indicators on children at risk of poverty and child wellbeing and urges EU Member States to use EU funding to implement the Commission Recommendation ‘Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ (here).

 

  • For more information on DRIVERS, please visit the project’s website.
  • EuroHealthNet’s assessment report on 2015 Country Specific Recommendations can be found here.
  • For more information on the EU Alliance for Investing in Children, click here and for the Written Declaration: here.