By Lydia O'Kane
In 2018, 23.5 per cent of the population is poor or at risk of poverty in the European Union; that is around 118 million people, but perhaps even more startling is the fact that 27% of children are going without in Europe today.
On this Universal Children’s Day, Caritas Europa is making a clarion call to European leaders telling them that, “no child should be left behind”.
Education and lack of opportunities
According to Caritas Europa’s Policy and Advocacy Officer, Peter Verhaeghe, poverty affects a child in many different ways. ”On the one hand we see that children of parents or families with for example, low income or at risk of poverty have less opportunities, well in the first place, access to education or decent education…There is also research which shows that the parents’ education level has an impact on the risk of poverty of their children, he says.”
In 2008 the economic and financial crisis swept across Europe leaving poverty and unemployment in its wake. Austerity measures put in place at the time also made it difficult for nations to look after their citizens adequately.
The family and Europe
Caritas Europa says, “the EU must show its added value in the fight against child and family poverty by investing in children” and is urging the “European Parliament and the Council to ensure continuity in the funding of child and family-related initiatives by quickly agreeing on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).” Peter Verhaeghe comments that Caritas is calling on the EU “to ratify the European Social Charter” which is the social constitution of Europe. He says, that if that was done, it would also be a “step forward to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”