On Universal Children’s Day, 20 November, Caritas Europa urges 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). The EU must show its added value in the fight against child and family poverty by investing in children. The future of children and families in Europe will be at risk if our leaders do not agree on the MFF.

“We live with my grandparents in a two bedroom apartment. I have two brothers and two sisters. I do not have my own room. We are sleeping with my parents, brothers and sisters in one room, Grandma and Grandpa are sleeping in the kitchen. We have no peace, they often quarrel. It is difficult for me to learn in such a situation. Several times my smaller brothers have dirtied my books or pulled out pages,” says Maja, 9-year-old girl from Slovenia.

Children growing up in poor families are likely to struggle to move out of poverty when adults. A child who experiences poverty at an early age is often marked for life by this experience. Since the financial and economic crisis of 2008, austerity policies have put national social protection systems under pressure. This has undermined the capacity of states to protect people against poverty and families to take care of their members. Such a short-sighted approach can only lead to more social costs, unless states provide for policies that break the cycle of disadvantage. A three-pronged approach, which guarantees access to adequate resources, access to affordable quality services and children’s right to participate, is key to success.

“The EU has to take responsibility to eradicate poverty and to reach an agreement on the MFF before the European elections of May 2019. Our leaders’ main concern should be ensuring the well-being of children and families across the EU, in particular of the most deprived. All children deserve equal opportunities and strong families make strong societies,” said Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.