Engaging migrant communities in the promotion of the rights of the child


Home 9 Child protection initiatives of the European Union 9 3.3 European actions for the promotion of the rights of the child with a focus on children in migration

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By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Name EU action plans that turn international and European legal commitments on child protection into concrete actions
  • Appraise the efforts made at EU level on child protection and identify gaps that still need to be addressed

The obligation of EU member states to undertake the appropriate legislative, administrative, social, and educational measures to effectively protect children derives from the international and European human rights legal documents, analysed above. Furthermore, the European Union aims at stepping up efforts to protect and promote child’s rights and turning the legal-based commitments into practice through several joint actions and plans:

  • The EU Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors 2010-2014, addressing issues such as protection, durable solutions in the best interests of the child and cooperation with third countries. It proposed an EU approach based on three main strands for action: prevention of unsafe migration and trafficking, reception and procedural guarantees in the EU and identification of durable solutions.
  • The Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019), providing concrete action on protecting children fleeing war, violence and persecution. It proposed concrete support to member states at all stages of the migration process, with a special focus on unaccompanied children, and had three main pillars: ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures, providing effective protection, enhancing the integration of children who would remain in Europe.
  • The EU Agenda for the rights of the child (2011), presenting the general principles to ensure respect of the provisions of the Charter and of the CRC about children’s rights. It focuses on several concrete actions in areas where the EU can bring real added value, including promoting child-friendly justice, better informing children about their rights, protecting children in vulnerable situations and fighting violence against children both inside the European Union and externally.
  • The EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2012-2014), stepping up efforts to implement the Revised Implementation Strategy of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, to combat child labour and violence against children.
  • The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016, reflecting the importance of developing an EU guidance on integrated child-sensitive protection systems (ICPS). It called the member states to strengthen child protection systems for trafficking situations and ensure where return is deemed to be the child’s best interest, the safe and sustainable return of children to the country of origin, in and outside the EU, and prevent them from being re-trafficked.
  • The institution of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights which represents the first formal body in the European Parliament that mainstreams children’s rights and assesses the impact of legislative and non-legislative work on children. It works together with child-focused organisations to keep children’s rights on top of the EU agenda. The aim of the Intergroup is to promote children’s rights and ensure that the best interest of the child is taken into account in EU internal and external action. The Intergroup’s work is based on the Child Rights Manifesto (2014) prepared by a coalition of child-focused organisations working towards the realisation of the EU’s legal and policy commitments to promote and protect children’s rights, and obligations set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • The Child Rights Manifesto (2014) was presented at the European Parliament by a coalition of child-focused organisations committed to translating legal obligations into concrete results for children by ensuring that their rights are promoted, protected and fulfilled across the EU’s work. To date, more than 100 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have pledged to become child rights champions in the Parliament through signing the Child Rights Manifesto. Many of those MEPs have joined the Child Rights Intergroup in the European Parliament.
  • The Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021), identifying five priorities for all member states to guarantee the rights of the child: equal opportunities, participation of children, a life free from violence, child-friendly justice and children’s rights in the digital environment.

In 2021 the European Commission called for a new EU policy framework to ensure the protection of children’s rights and promote an inclusive strategy to support children in vulnerable conditions through two major policy initiatives:

  • The European Child Guarantee (2021) aims at breaking the cycle of poverty and social exclusion across generations. It provides guidance and means for member states to support children in need and break the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage.

To do so the Commission recommends member states to provide free and effective access for children in need to:

  • Early childhood education and care
  • Education and school-based activities
  • Effective access to healthy nutrition, adequate housing and healthcare.

The European Child Guarantee complements the second pillar of the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and it is also a key deliverable of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan (2021), specifically, Principle 11 “Childcare and support to children”. The Action Plan proposes a target for the EU to reduce by at least 5 million children at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2030.

  • The EU strategy on the rights of the child (2021-2024) provides a framework for EU action to better promote and protect children’s rights in Europe and abroad. The strategy proposes a series of targeted actions across six thematic areas, each one defining the priorities for EU action in the coming years:
  • Participation in political and democratic life
  • Socio-economic inclusion, health and education
  • Combating violence against children and ensuring child protection
  • Child-friendly justice
  • Digital and information society
  • The global dimension

The EU Strategy on the rights of the child supports the fulfilment of the rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the goals and targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Council of Europe, Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://edoc.coe.int/en/children-s-rights/7362-council-of-europe-action-plan-on-protecting-refugee-and-migrant-children-in-europe-2017-2019.html


EU Action plan for human rights and democracy (2012). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/131173.pdf


EU Action plan on Unaccompanied Minors 2010-2014. Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/action-plan-unaccompanied-minors-2010-2014_en


EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child (2011). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A52011DC0060


EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016. Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A52012DC0286


The Child Rights Manifesto (2014). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://www.childrightsmanifesto.eu/champions/2014-champions/#1552048513171-31188e64-eab9


The Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=0900001680644297


The European Child Guarantee (2021). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1428&langId=en


The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan (2021). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_820


The EU strategy on the rights of the child (2021-2024). Accessed on 28.01.2022 from: https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/rights-child/eu-strategy-rights-child-and-european-child-guarantee_en#the-eu-strategy-on-the-rights-of-the-child