In a special ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, European Parliament President David Sassoli called for protection of children to be at the heart of the work of the new European Commission.

The President gave the opening speech alongside HM Mathilde Queen of the Belgians, ahead of a performance from Spanish singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Bisbal.

“The Convention helped ensure that children could never again be considered the property of their parents or any other authority. It remains the most widely ratified treaty in the history of the world and has helped transform the lives of millions. However, at a time of globalisation and huge digital advances, it is unacceptable that more than six million children under the age of 15 die every year – the majority from preventable causes. If we do not act quickly, more than 55 million children under the age of five will die before 2030,” said President Sassoli.

“The European Union must play its role in defending children’s rights around the globe. It is inconceivable that more than 152 million children are deprived of their childhood and education because they are forced into work. This is not to mention those, who suffer even worse forms of exploitation, such as slavery, prostitution, or recruitment as child soldiers. We must all do all we can to end this abuse,” add EP President.

“The European Parliament has called for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child through the EU’s foreign policy, and has asked the Commission to propose a strategy and an action plan to achieve this goal. The Parliament has also designated a special coordinator for children’s rights, Vice-President Mrs Ewa Kopacz, to focus our own work. I encourage all the children present to intervene in this hemicycle today, but also whenever they have the opportunity to do so in everyday life. The right to expression and participation is key to the Convention. Use it as many of you do in defence of the climate. We adults have the moral, legal and political obligation to listen to your concerns and to act,” President Sassoli concluded.