PES Social Europe Network: all Member States should follow socialist governments and implement the Child Guarantee

14/10/2021

Socialist policies are transforming the life chances of Europe’s most deprived children - all EU Member States must now step up and achieve the Child Guarantee. This was the call today from PES member parties and organisations, academics and civil society representatives meeting in the PES Social Europe Network (SEN).

The Child Guarantee – a policy presented by the PES and the S&D Group in 2014, and adopted by the EU this year under the leadership of Commissioner Nicolas Schmit – guarantees children at risk of poverty or social exclusion have effective and free access to high quality early childhood education and care, education and school-based activities, at least one healthy meal each school day, and healthcare, as well as effective access to adequate housing and healthy nutrition.

Meeting virtually, the PES SEN praised Portugal’s socialist government for taking the lead on implementing the Child Guarantee, after it extended free early childhood education and care to all vulnerable children last month.

The PES Social Europe Network Chair, Agnes Jongerius MEP, said

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit we were already fighting another crisis, that of inequality and poverty in Europe, where 25% of children in the EU were at risk of poverty.

“Deprivation during childhood increases the likelihood of experiencing poverty later in life. With our initiative for a Child Guarantee, we can break this vicious circle.

“The Guarantee is in place, we have dedicated funding through the ESF+, now Member States need to get on and implement it. Progressive governments have already picked up the baton, with the Portuguese government of Antonio Costa announcing a Portuguese Child Guarantee, including the extension of free early childhood education and care to 35,000 vulnerable children and a family allowance supplement for children living in extreme poverty. It is time for other Member States to get off the starting blocks. There is no time to lose when it comes to combating child poverty.”

Portugal’s progress on the Child Guarantee echoes the focus placed on quality education and childcare by socialist governments and local authorities all over Europe. The SEN meeting exchanged on the next steps for the implementation of the Child Guarantee across the EU.

Also on the agenda for the Network was a discussion on the need to guarantee decent and secure pensions for all, social priorities for the Conference on the Future of Europe, the directive on adequate minimum wages in the EU, and defending employment rights for platform workers.