“The signatory Member States call on the EU and its Member States to take firm action against child poverty. The Declaration aims to support a long-term European policy strategy to reduce child and family poverty as well as social exclusion.” EPSCO Council declaration on “Overcoming poverty and social exclusion”, December 2020.

EU ministries have issued a call for firmer action against child poverty and social exclusion at EU and national level.

Proposed by the current Council presidency trio of Portugal, Slovenia and Germany, a Joint EPSCO [1] Council Declaration on ‘Overcoming poverty and social exclusion’ has been published highlighting the need to invest in children and families who have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing child poverty

Recognising that the Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing inequalities and “putting pressure on health and social welfare services”, the signatories to the declaration draw attention to the lack of national policies to tackle poverty, particularly child poverty. They also stress the need for all children at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Europe to have access to free healthcare, free education, free early childhood education as well as care, decent housing and adequate nutrition.

This declaration has been signed in the context of the Commission’s proposal for a child guarantee and the negotiations on the future EU budget. In the negotiations, the Commission requested national authorities to agree 5% of EU funds to address child poverty, but this proposal was not agreed by the EU Council.

Target support to the most vulnerable children

With around a quarter of children in the EU at risk of poverty or social exclusion, public social services have always argued for robust action to combat child poverty in line with EU and international policy initiatives, such as the European Pillar of Social Rights and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

As highlighted in ESN’s response to the European Commission’s consultation on a future child guarantee, there needs to be investment targeted at the most vulnerable children and families, with whom social services work, and who have been particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why ESN calls for a care guarantee for the most vulnerable children designed in cooperation with local public social services, which are central in improving the lives of children and families at risk of poverty and social exclusion.



[1] The EPSCO Council brings together ministers responsible for employment, social affairs, health and consumer policy from all EU member states.


European Social Network (2020). ESN Response to the Child Guarantee Consultation, available at http://www.esn-eu.org/sites/default/files/2020-10/ESN%20Response%20to%20the%20Child%20Guarantee%20Consultation.pdf (accessed 15/12/2020).


Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (2020). Joint Declaration by the  Ministers of the   EPSCO Council, available at https://www.bmfsfj.de/blob/163116/5964d2c157c6aa8b78840d5b0b59cb84/20201211-en-erklaerung-eu-mitgliedstaaten-poverty-armut-data.pdf (accessed 15/12/2020).