The Europe 2020 strategy aims to boost ’smart, inclusive and sustainable growth’ by improving employment; making a smarter use of energy; tackling climate change; investing in education and research; and fighting poverty. On an annual basis, all EU Member States (MS) are obliged to report to the EU on progress made on these goals in their National NRPs.

For a third consecutive year, Eurochild assessed these NRPs from a child rights point of view in order to evaluate:

  • MS priorities on child poverty and well-being;
  • MS actions to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis and austerity measures on the child population;
  • stakeholders’ involvement in MS’ NRPs development;
  • as 2013 is the year when the European Commission issued “Recommendation on child poverty and well-being” (Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage), the report was to analyse an extent to which these recommendations were taken into account in this year’s national policy reforms.

- Based on the analysis, Eurochild recommends to:

  • "Make child well-being a political priority, by setting concrete targets to reduce child poverty;
  • before introducing further cuts, assess what impact this will have on children,
  • make (better) use of EU money like the Structural Funds to combat child poverty,
  • include children’s organisations on national, regional and local level in preparing and reporting on policies,
  • integrate the European Commission Recommendation ‘Investing in children’ in their reform planning."

The above article is based on the information obtained from Eurochild’s article.

EPHA’s perspective

Although not directly involved in the analysis of the NRPs, EPHA evaluated the Country Specific Recommendations (CRSs) (which are based on the NRPs received from MS) issued by the European Commission, from a public health perspective notably.

From a public health point of view, several of the recommendations, both in the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) and in the CSRs, have the potential to ensure cost-effectiveness whilst simultaneously increasing quality of care.

Member States have received recommendations to improve cost-effectiveness of healthcare systems, shift from institutional to home care, improve access to primary care, provide coverage to disadvantaged groups, and place greater emphasis on prevention and independent living.

To see to which degree the CRSs address the child population and the Roma community, please visit this EPHA-dedicated article on the analysis of the Country Specific Recommendations. In a nutshell, a handful of the EU MS (Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Poland, UK, or Spain) received very concrete recommendations for their health and social systems’ reforms to:

  • "improve access to inclusive education for disadvantaged children, in particularly for Roma" (Bulgaria)
  • "reduce poverty, particularly among children and the Roma" (Hungary)
  • "focus on better access to quality early childhood education, including for Roma children", "speed up the transition from institutional to alternative care for children deprived of parental care" (Romania)
  • "improve delivery of social services, including childcare" (Estonia)
  • "invest in affordable quality childcare and pre-school education" (Poland)
  • "accelerate the implementation of planned measures to reduce the costs of childcare; improving its quality and availability" (UK)
  • "increase cost-effectiveness of the healthcare sector, while maintaining accessibility for vulnerable groups" (Spain)

A question remains, however, to what degree these will be fully able to address vast and growing health and social inequalities faced by children, the Roma and other vulnerable groups living in the EU. Despite a decrease in infant mortality as demonstrated in the recent European Commission’s report, the progress achieved is unequal and greatly characterised by the social gradient in its distribution.

EPHA related articles:

- [EPHA Analysis] The 2013 (European Commission’s) Country Specific Recommendations

- [Pre-announcement] What are European countries doing to prevent intentional injuries to children?

Last modified on September 12 2013.