A coalition of six child rights NGOs met the European Union’s new leadership, aiming to cement child protection and participation as priorities for the bloc in the next five years and beyond.
The NGO leaders from Joining Forces — uniting ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation, and World Vision International — were in Brussels to meet with the European Commission, European Parliament, and European External Action Service.
Special Representative for external affairs and resources at SOS Children’s Villages International, Richard Pichler said, “International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen is seeking the group’s input on a number of issues. One is of course child and youth participation; the other one is on tracking and measuring children’s issues being represented … in EU policy, measuring input and outcomes in the funding for children.”
The group also met Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, discussing the commission’s commitment — made under Lenarčič’s predecessor — to allocate 10% of the EU’s humanitarian budget to education in emergencies.
Joining Forces wants an EU Child Rights Strategy to “mainstream” child rights in EU decision-making, intersecting with the work of Dubravka Šuica, the commission vice president responsible for democracy and demography, who is charged with preparing a “comprehensive strategy on the rights of the child.
Through the Joining Forces coalition, based at Plan International’s headquarters in the U.K. and currently staffed by a two-person secretariat, the NGOs conduct joint programming and advocacy in five countries.
Officials on the other side of the table in Brussels this week also appreciated the chance to speak to the child rights NGOs. Joining Forces covers “100,000 employees roughly, 152 countries, and €7 billion [$7.7 billion] of revenue, so it gives a scale and a coverage which is just very appealing when you are speaking to a commissioner.