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18 July 2019
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Children’s Europe

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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union established in Europe and comprising 28 Member States, including Romania.

1958              Belgium,   France,   Germany,   Italy,   Luxembourg, 

                      the Netherlands

1973              Denmark,   Ireland,   UK

1981              Greece

1986              Portugal,    Spain

1995              Austria,    Finland,   Sweden

2004              the Czech Republic,    Cyprus,    Estonia,   Hungary,   Latvia,  

                       Lithuania,    Malta,     Poland,    Slovakia,    Slovenia.

2007              Bulgaria,   Romania

2013              Croatia

You have certainly heard about the two World Wars and you know very well how much suffering they caused.

Well, after the Second World War, a few leaders who lived on the European continent wondered “What can we do so that such terrible things do not happen again?”

This question was the core of the European Union’s development. But it has not been called like that from the very beginning, nor has it had as many Member States as it currently has.

In 1952 the “European Coal and Steel Community” was established. Why? Because six European countries decided to bring together their coal and steel resources. They thought that such a collaboration would reduce the chances for a new war to break out. If they jointly controlled important resources that transportation, weapons production, and energy were based upon, how could they possibly get to fight against each other again?

The states that promoted the collaboration to reduce the risk of a new war were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Since things went well, the six states known as the “parents” of the European Union decided to take steps to get even closer to each other. They decided to remove obstacles that hindered trade between them, and to create a single market. This is how the European Economic Community was created in 1958.

It was only in the early 1990s that the name of European Union was chosen.

In order for such a large Union to be operational, it needs a well-developed system. What are therefore the European institutions?

Pentru ca o Uniune atât de mare să funcționeze are nevoie de un sistem bine pus la punct. Care sunt, așadar, instituțiile europene?

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

The 28 European Commissioners, belonging to the 28 Member States, propose laws and ensure that the Treaties on which the European Union is founded are observed.

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament represents all the European Union citizens, so it is important that those entitled to vote elect representatives from Romania every five years.

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL, AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

We know, the three denominations can create confusion, sometimes we hear adults mistaking them. Let’s take them one at a time:

The Council of the European Union

Also known as the “Council” or “the Council of Ministers”, it is the institution and the event that brings together ministers from the Member States. They consult with each other, make decisions, and put pressure to make sure that certain laws are implemented for the benefit of the citizens.

The European Council

It is made up of the Heads of the Members States or of their Governments and it defines the priorities and the overall strategy of the European Union.

The Council of Europe

It is a body independent of the European Union, but it brings together all the countries of the Union, along other countries in Europe that are not member states. It is an international organization aiming to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe. It is made up of several bodies, out of which the best known are the European Court of Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers (the Council of Europe’s decision-making body), and the Parliamentary Assembly (which elects the judges of the European Court of Human Rights, and ensures the basic values promoted by the Council of Europe are observed).

Imagine that your class master decides that his or her advisory class is to be taught by all the students through rotation, six months for each of them. The directions and the stakes of that class are set by the teacher in agreement with the school management, but the classes are being managed by one student in turn.

The same happens with the presidency of the European Union member states (such as Romania) of the European Union Council, this role is also known as the “European Union Presidency” – held for six months, by rotation, by the European Union member states.

Just like one pupil is appointed the head of the advisory class, the Romanian Presidency will have to act as a facilitator, being in charge to help advance the Council’s work in terms of European legislation, ensuring the continuity of the European Union agenda, well-organized legislative processes, and cooperation between the member states.

In other words, the Presidency is watching for the good course of negotiations between states or with the European Parliament, whose agreement is necessary to achieve the majority of policies that affect the lives of citizens in the 28 member states of the Union.

For those who want to know more:

If you want to impress during your discussions with your friends or with adults, here is an important piece of information:

In the past, the country holding the European Union Presidency used to have more influencing powers than today. Roles have changed since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in 2009. How?
For example, the country holding the European Union Presidency could establish the European Union Agenda, that is the most important issues in which decisions are to be made during that six-month term. This has changed because it is not a useful strategy in terms of continuity: the agenda could have been changed radically after six months, when another state would take over the presidency. Therefore, the Agenda is currently set by the European Union summits, some regular meetings of the European Union leaders.

What will the Romanian presidency of the European Union Council do for children?

First of all, let us remind you that all the children born in the European Union benefit from a series of rights all throughout its territory, such as: the right to reside and to move freely in the territory of the Member States, the right to participate in the political life of the Union, the right to lodge petitions and complaints, the right to consular protection etc. Moreover, the European Union encourages all its citizens of all ages to play an active role in its development.

In the context of the Romanian presidency of the European Union Council, the Romanian Government will promote children’s participation and involvement at European level.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Minister Delegate for European Affairs and the European Institute in Romania in partnership with the Bacau County Council, the Bacau School Inspectorate and UNICEF in Romania already organized a landmark citizen consultation in Romania and the European Union with more than 300 children from the Bacau county. Children expressed their views on European Union related topics, school, tolerance and friendship. Most children were keen to meet people from other countries and different cultures and presented commendable civic initiatives.

Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carries out the programme “Youth Delegate to The European Union” in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The programme is designed for all those interested in European topics aged 18 to 25.

At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will select four young Romanians for the pilot programme “MFA-UNICEF: Junior Ambassador to the European Union“. Children and teenagers will have the opportunity to promote Romania and policies for children and to get involved in the preparation and the exercise of the Romanian Presidency of the Council.

Moreover, a complex consultation mechanism for children and youth will be put in place in the social media: U-Report Romania. In the European Union, 1 in 5 citizens is a child or a young person. Therefore, it is essential for children and young people to participate in the debates defining Europe’s future. Their ideas can significantly contribute to the next European policies and programmes that will ensure equal access to education, health, integration on the labor market and active involvement in the decisions that influence their lives.

The EU Children’s Conference in Bucharest will provide the basis for mechanisms for consulting children in EU decision-making

Given that 1 in 5 European citizens is a child or a young person and considering children’s right to be consulted and to actively participate in decision-making that affects them, as provided for in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, their involvement in the debates that define the future of Europe is a priority for the Romanian Government during our country’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

As part of that undertaking, the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice through the National Authority for the Protection of Children’s Rights and Adoption, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – through the Minister for European Affairs, and UNICEF Romania have agreed to cooperate with a view to promoting children’s right to participation as a priority.

The main goal of the cooperation is to boost children’s involvement in child-related decision-making and policy development processes, at the level of the European Union.

This will be achieved by setting general rules and clear structural mechanisms at EU level, allowing children to get truly involved in the debates and decision-making that will shape the future of the European Union.

Hence, during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, through an ample consultation process involving European children, international experts and representatives of European institutions active in the field of children’s rights, the “Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration” will be issued.

The Declaration will be a tool capable of mobilising the European institutions and the EU Member States to develop formal structures and mechanisms meant to promote children’s right to participation, in accordance with the EU Recommendation “Investing in Children”, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The “Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration”, drafted by the Romanian Children’s Board, set up specifically for that purpose, is currently being disseminated across Europe through the networks of UNICEF, EuroChild, Save the Children, the Federation of Child Protection NGOs, and European high school student associations, to get buy-in and feedback from a large number of various groups of children all over the European Union.

The Declaration is available at: https://childrendeclaration.typeform.com/to/h8dSPt

This process will also be supported by a significant number of experts, whose recommendations and proposals regarding the design of the actual mechanisms for children’s participation in decision-making will be compiled in a supporting document that will accompany the “Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration”.

The highpoint of these ongoing endeavours will be the international conference “Child Participation in Decision-Making and Policy Development at EU Level”, to be held at Bucharest, from 6 to 7 May 2019.During that event, children and adolescents from Romania and the EU Member States will finalise the Declaration and will present it to the representatives of the ministries and central authorities responsible for child rights issues in the 28 Member States, to child rights experts and the specialists of the European institutions and the European Parliament. The document will thus become a benchmark for defining children’s rights and asserting their right to participate in the adoption of all the policies and decisions that will contribute to building the future of the European Union.