Watch: EU leaders urged to make child poverty history

Former President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has appealed to EU leaders to make a strong commitment in favour of reducing child poverty across Europe by agreeing on a substantial allocation of EU resources to tackle the issue.

Coleiro Preca – President of Malta between 2014 and 2019 – was made president of Eurochild, a network of organisations working with children across Europe, shortly after the end of her term.

As EU leaders prepare for a summit on 17-18 July, in which they face the mammoth task of finding an agreement on the EU’s long-term budget and on its measures aimed to tackle the economic impact of Covid-19, Coleiro Preca insisted on the need to invest in the public good.

“Invest in our children — they must be front and centre of the decisions EU leaders take this week on the EU recovery plan and long-term budget,” she maintained.

On behalf of Eurochild, she insisted that they should back the European Commission’s proposal to devote at least 5% of the European Social Fund Plus resources to reduce child poverty across the bloc and ensure that children did not end up becoming the invisible victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Past mistake’ of austerity should not be repeated

Her appeal comes in the wake of UNICEF’s warning that children’s situation is set to worsen as a result of the pandemic, with household poverty expected to increase by 15% worldwide by the end of 2020

“Rising poverty and inequality will hit children harder. This is a real, tangible problem that is hidden, and unless addressed the future of these children will be in peril,” Coleiro Preca maintained.

Eurochild’s secretary-general Jana Hainsworth insisted that it was important to learn from past mistakes and avoid responding to the crisis with austerity measures, particularly since children were disproportionately affected by poverty.

“Public investment in children and families, and the services that support them, is essential if recovery is to be sustainable and inclusive,” she maintained.