The EU Children’s Participation Platform amplifies children’s voices and enables understanding and access to decision-making processes across the European Union.
Through the Platform, children can connect with each other, talk to policymakers and decision-makers, discuss topics and themes that affect their lives, and learn about their rights.
Why did the EU create the Platform?
The EU wants children to have a happy and healthy life. As part of their work on EU Rights of the Child, the EU asked 10,000 children what was important to them.
A lot of children said that they would like to have a say in matters that concern them, and that they would like decision-makers to listen to their opinions.
As a result, a plan, called the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, emphasises that children should have the opportunity to have their voices heard. An important part of the Strategy is children’s right to participate in policymaking.
The Platform is opening doors to include children in discussions and decision-making across the EU. It connects existing child participation mechanisms at the local, national and EU level.
How children and teenagers participate
Share their views on issues that concern them, that are related to EU policy
Take part in online and offline events and meetings
Listen to others and learn how to make change
Experience democracy in action
Learn about children’s rights
Help to shape the future of the EU itself
The Platform is for all children and teenagers under the age of 18, living in the EU. It brings together:
- existing children’s parliaments
- children’s councils (at the local, city or municipality level)
- ombudspersons for children, and
- all organisations that support children in being heard
It is a safe space for children to exercise their right to be heard at the EU level, and improve child participation at European, national, and local levels.
The Platform helps children understand more about the European Union, children’s rights, democracy, policy-making, and other ways to participate and share their views.
This helps ensure that children know about the political and democratic processes and can make informed decisions to be involved or not. For example:
- Consultations on specific policy/legal issues begin with working with children to help them understand the theme that is being discussed as well as the policy-making process;
- Consultations identify what children need to know and then to address them in ways that are accessible and age-appropriate;
- These materials are co-designed with children from member organisations;
- The resources are shared on the Platform’s public website to be used freely by all children, organisations and stakeholders working on these issues.
How is the Platform structured?
The European Commission began the setup of the Platform and appointed a Secretariat team to launch its first phase.
Children are also helping to shape how the Platform works and its priorities. Key decisions are made at the General Assembly, with advice from the Children’s Panel and the Advisory Board.
The Platform works at both the EU and national (Member State) levels. Together with child participation organisations and their children’s networks, the main groups within the Platform are as follows:
Child participation sits at the heart of the Platform. To ensure that children have a say, a group of 10 to 20 children make up the Children’s Panel, which helps create and guide the activities of the Platform. The Children's Panel has a consultative, co-producing and validating role.
Children on the Panel were nominated and/or selected from Save the Children and SOS Children's Villages’ existing child participation networks and groups in the 14 Member States.
To date, 16 children, aged 14-17 years old have been nominated, coming from: Spain, Sweden, Lithuania, Denmark, Romania, Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia and Latvia.
Specific Objectives of the Children’s Panel:
- To consult on the visual Identity of the Platform as well as external messaging
- To co-create a child friendly safeguarding policy
- To consult on the approach, format and thematic priorities of the consultations
- To contribute and consult of the organisation of Platform activities
- To consult on the Work Programme of the Platform
- To co-produce child-friendly legal and policy documents
As the Children’s Panel has a key role in shaping the Platform, their voices need to carry loud and strong. This is ensured by efficient and meaningful facilitation by the Child Protection Officers.
Representatives of the European Commission, European Parliament, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Council of Europe, Children’s Rights Action Group, UNICEF and children representing children’s participation groups.
Members of the Platform who are children also joined the Advisory Board and have a say on what the Platform should do and how.
The Secretariat works under the scientific guidance and advice of Prof. Laura Lundy and Prof. Cath Larkins, and consists of ICF S.A., Risk & Policy Analysts, Save the Children and SOS Children’s Villages.
The Platform Secretariat includes experts and professionals working in policy development and delivery, child rights and child participation. The Secretariat also includes special roles to protect and empower children participating in the Platform activities:
- Child Protection Officers – child participation and safeguarding experts. Child Protection Officers (CPOs) are responsible for organising the Children’s Panel and their meetings. Since the work of the Panel informs and feeds directly into the Platform’s set up and implementation of activities, the meetings' focus areas are aligned with the 'lifecycle' of the Platform itself and its upcoming priorities.
CPOs work closely with the Secretariat and Partners to align priorities and discussion points for Children's Panel meetings and are be responsible for feeding back the outcomes from the Panel meetings to the Secretariat and Partners.
- Child Empowerment Officers – work at the national level of the Platform, in individual Member States, reaching out to organisations working with children who do not often get to take part and who organise Platform activities at the country level.
Child Empowerment Officers facilitate and coordinate consultations on policy and legal issues with children at the national level. They also support other activities of the Platform, such as reviewing child-friendly documents on policy/legal issues in national languages and ensuring that organisations working with children who are often excluded from participation processes know about and can join the Platform as members.
How does the Platform keep children and teenagers safe from harm?
We have established a Safeguarding Framework that creates a safeguarding culture throughout the Platform to ensure that children involved in the activities hosted by the Platform feel safe at any and every moment and under all circumstances.
Children’s participation can expose children to various risks. Sometimes children who speak about challenges they face and how they engage in addressing them can face humiliation, bullying from peers and adults, and can be exposed to violence in their communities, at home, at school or in childcare settings. When involved in conversations about children affected by exploitation, neglect or abuse, children who have been victims of violence can experience secondary trauma.
We have identified nine requirements for safe, ethical and impactful participation, according to which, participation should be:
- Transparent and informative
- Child-friendly environments and working methods
- Supported by training
- Safe and sensitive to risks, and
The Safeguarding Framework calls on everyone in the Platform to make all efforts to guarantee that:
- All children involved are protected and can express their views without fearing any risks and forms of violence, coming from the adults and children they interact with in the Platform’s activities, from peers or from other stakeholders in their communities;
- All staff members, volunteers, consultants, representatives and other employees of the organisations members of the Platform are protected against any safeguarding risks, and receive the necessary training and support to be able to protect children against any risks and forms of violence;
- All organisations involved as members of the Platform can preserve and further develop a safeguarding culture and a reputation of safe organisations;
- All partners and supporters of the Platform are reassured of the high safeguarding standards respected and promoted by the Platform and can inspire themselves in strengthening their safeguarding policy and practice.
Documents for and by children
Documents on child rights and participation
- EU Plan for Children’s Rights- child-friendly long version (English)
- The Lundy model of child participation (English)
Related links and resources
- The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee
- EU policy on the rights of the child
- Child participation tools, training and advice at CP4Europe
- Studies, publications, links to useful material on the rights of the child
- Children's Rights: What is the UNCRC? - BBC Bitesize
- UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child | Save the Children UK
- Convention on the Rights of the Child: Statement included by children - BBC Newsround