Challenges including climate change, child poverty and social exclusion, mental health, and rapidly developing digital technology highlight the need for the EU to build on recent progress on child rights in the next political cycle.


BRUSSELS, 7 March 2024 A new report from UNICEF and The Good Lobby calls for the European Union (EU) to strengthen children’s rights governance in its institutions ahead of decisive elections which will usher in a new political cycle. 

‘Empowering Children to Empower the Future: Re-thinking Children’s Rights Governance in the European Union’, evaluates the children’s rights governance framework in the EU against best practices in member States. The study, which was commissioned by UNICEF and carried out by The Good Lobby under the coordination and supervision of Professor Alberto Alemanno, puts forward a set of recommendations aimed at strengthening the EU Governance Framework of Children’s Rights at the EU level. 

“Despite being around 20% of the EU population, children are rarely involved in the decisions that affect their present and their future,” said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to EU Institutions. “Recent developments such as the European Child Guarantee and the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child show positive progress. But current and emerging challenges, including child poverty, climate change, a rise in mental health conditions among young people since the COVID-19 pandemic, and rapidly developing digital technology, highlight the need for a comprehensive reinforcement of children’s rights in the EU’s institutions.”

“Ahead of the European Parliament election and new political cycle, our joint study conveys an urgent call to action” stated Prof Alberto Alemanno, Founder of The Good Lobby. “Unless we guarantee the respect of children’s rights and integrate them into current policies, we won’t be able to safeguard intergenerational equity, which is a pre-condition for the social cohesion necessary to perpetuate our democratic process. This is not just a present imperative but a fundamental insurance over our collective future”

Through the report, UNICEF and The Good Lobby hope to build a critical mass to strengthen governance for children at the EU level. As part of their outreach UNICEF and The Good Lobby are hosting a roundtable discussion today (7 March 2024) with representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, Belgian Government – which currently holds the EU Presidency – , think tanks and civil society organisations.  

In addition to critically evaluating the children’s rights governance framework in the EU against best practices and mechanisms implemented at the member States level, the study looks at EU legal competencies and its policy framework, institutional structures. In light of the critical gaps identified, it offers a set of concrete recommendations for strengthening the EU’s capacity to uphold and advance the rights of its youngest citizens. These include:  

  • At the European Commission level: The creation of a specialized unit for Children’s Rights in the Directorate- General for Justice and Consumers with adequate resources and staff to handle the increasing scope of work. Additionally, the establishment of a task force at the Secretariat-General level to gather the focal points across the different Directorate-Generals for better coordination and to ensure political support in mainstreaming children’s rights. 
  • At the European Parliament level: The creation of a permanent body dedicated to children’s rights, positioned outside the regular committee structure. The proposed body would be chaired by the European Parliament Coordinator on Children’s Rights, preferably a Vice-President of the European Parliament, to ensure a high level of commitment and to minimize politicization. 
  • At the Council of the EU level: Start an informal alliance between member States to ensure permanent attention and prioritization of children’s rights in the Council of the European Union’s work. This alliance would focus on policy advocacy, knowledge exchange, and collaborative initiatives, facilitating focused and strategic discussions within the Council. 
  • At the EU level: The establishment of a European Authority for Children, building upon the Authority proposed by the European Parliament for the European Child Guarantee and expanding on its proposed initial mandate.
Read the report

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

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About The Good Lobby 
The Good Lobby is an international nonprofit, headquartered in Brussels with offices in Milan, Paris, and Madrid. We provide strategic advice, research, and training to democratise lobbying and make our political systems more equal.

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For more information, please contact: 

Hugh Reilly, UNICEF Representation to EU Institutions, Tel: +3225050105, [email protected]  

Marco Carraro, UNICEF Representation to EU Institutions, Tel: +44 775 883 8234 [email protected] 

Marco Giufre, The Good Lobby, [email protected]