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European Parliament demonstrates strong commitment to children's rights

19 September 2011

International child rights and development organisation Plan welcomes the European Parliament’s strong commitment to child rights, gender, health and education in development cooperation.

The European Parliament’s Development Committee has approved Thijs Berman’s report on establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

In doing so, the committee adopted a number of amendments which aim to strengthen the position of children in the bloc’s long-term development budget and priorities. This represents a significant improvement on the original proposal, which failed to adequately address child rights or gender.

This vote represents the position of the assembly as a whole, and forms the basis of the Parliament’s position on the Development Cooperation Instrument going into the trialogue negotiations with EU member states and the European Commission.

20% for health and basic education

Plan welcomes, in particular, the call to earmark at least 20% of the funds available under the DCI to support “the provision of health and basic education, to ensure achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and to achieve utmost human development and a better standard of living”.

Economic development is not viable without a well-educated population in good health. While important progress has been made in access to health care and education globally, many countries are far from reaching international developments goals such as the MDGs. The goal of poverty eradication in EU development policy will not be achieved without sufficient funding for health and basic education. Allocating 20% of the DCI exclusively for health and basic education is therefore essential. This also maintains the previous 20% commitment in the 2007-2013 DCI, and follows the many previous calls from the European Parliament.

Access, quality and completion of basic education

Members also supported provisions which seek to improve access to and quality of basic education, including the vital transition to lower secondary education. While progress has been made in improving access to education, this would be a hollow achievement if the quality of the education received means children leave school without basic literacy skills. Completion rates and the number of students, in particular girls, making the transition to lower secondary school are therefore key progress markers in the fight against poverty.

Commenting on the results, Karen Schroh, Head of Plan EU Office, said, "Children make up 1/3 of the world's population and constitute more than half of the population in most developing countries. They are therefore central to the EU's wider development objectives. The European Parliament has sent a strong message going into the negotiations with member states that it stands behind the values of human rights, equality and non-discrimination.

“The support shown for health and basic education, in particular, is a huge step-forward. A healthy, well-educated population is the first step towards poverty eradication and ensuring long-term economic growth. EU member states must respect the Parliament’s position and not attempt to water down these commitments during the trialogue negotiations.”

Editor's notes

Contact Louise Hagendijk, Email: louise.hagendijk@plan-international.org, Tel: 02 504 6056

To ensure the EU meets its poverty reduction targets and follows through on its commitments to promote and protect child rights and gender in EU external action, Plan is calling on the European Parliament and European Council to:

- Ensure there are specific budget allocations to child rights, which must be mainstreamed effectively as a cross-cutting issue, including child-sensitive budgeting and indicators

- Make gender mainstreaming a requirement in all financial instruments, with explicit commitment to gender assessments, gender-responsive budgeting and gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, as well as ensuring specific budget allocations for gender

- Ensure at least 20% of the DCI (thematic and geographic programmes) is earmarked for health and basic (primary and lower secondary) education, as well as in the European Development Fund.