June 19 2012

Putting children at the heart of the EU's 2014-2020 budget

19/06/2012 - The Eurozone crisis may continue to dominate the headlines, but it is not the only thing on the minds of EU leaders. Right now, they are busy making deals which will lock in the union's policy priorities - and spending limits - until the end of this decade. The decisions made in the coming months will affect the lives of millions of people, not just in Europe but worldwide, as the EU bloc provides over half of all development assistance worldwide, while the European Commission on its own is the second largest donor behind the United States.

When aid is used wisely, it has a catalytic effect in helping people pull themselves out of poverty. This is particularly important when it comes to children, who represent half the population of developing countries. Child poverty is on the rise worldwide, yet we know that investing in children, particularly girls, is one of the most effective uses of EU money. It is a key to fostering long-term, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Research shows, for example, that as many as 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low-incomes countries left school simply with basic reading skills. That is equivalent to a 12% cut in global poverty. Ultimately, investing in development is good not just for developing countries, but for the EU itself. Scaling back investment in development now would be short-sighted in the extreme.

We urge European leaders to take this responsibility towards children seriously. We recommend they ensure that budget is allocated to child rights and child protection and make gender mainstreaming a requirement in all financial instruments. They should also ensure that 20% of funds for thematic and geographic programmes are earmarked for health and basic education.

Neglecting investment in children has negative long-term consequences, for the children themselves and society as a whole. The decisions European leaders make in the coming weeks and months on future development policy and the money available to finance it will determine whether they are serious about transforming policy promises into concrete results. Two billion children around the world are counting on it.

Why the 2014-2020 EU budget must have children at its heart - WATCH THE VIDEO!