12 June 2023
“The European Union has a longstanding commitment to eradicate child labour and safeguard the rights of the children. On this World Day against Child Labour, many children around the world continue to be subjected to forced labour, child labour, and other forms of exploitation. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are still 160 million children facing child labour, half of which are exploited in hazardous work.
No sustainable and equitable future is achievable until children around the world will continue to be exploited, denied their rights, and hindered from reaching their full development. We must intensify our efforts to end child labour and provide children with access to quality education, healthcare, and a decent life.
In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Durban call to Action and, as laid out in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the European Union is determined to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and extinguish all forms of child labour by 2025.
The European Union’s Comprehensive Strategy on the Rights of the Child (2021-2024) made the call for the eradication of child labour a central feature of its global dimension and, together with the first-ever Youth Action Plan in External Action, proposed concrete follow-up actions.
The European Union took decisive measures to ensure the elimination of all products made with forced and child labour. Proposals such as the Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence should ensure that companies operating in the European Union address, inter alia, the adverse impacts of their actions on child labour in their global supply chains. Similarly, the European Commission has proposed a regulation to prevent the importation of goods produced through forced child labour. Moreover, through projects like the Sustainable Cocoa program, the European Union promotes the use of sustainable cocoa production methods and works to prevent child labour in cocoa farming.
The fight against child labour needs a comprehensive approach, effective in addressing the root causes of this phenomenon, including poverty, inequality, lack of access to education and limited social protection offered to children, while promoting decent work for adults worldwide. The European Union is pursuing membership of the Alliance 8.7 and, together with its partners, is committed to accelerate all necessary efforts to protect and safeguard the rights of all children, and to ensure that they can enjoy their childhood free from all forms of exploitation and abuse.”
The European Union has a longstanding commitment to the eradication of child labour and the promotion of the rights of children. The EU Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2021-2025, supported by the Youth Action Plan in EU External Action, aims to ensure that all children in the European Union enjoy their rights and that the European Union promotes and protects the rights of children globally.
In line with these goals, the European Union is committed to working towards the elimination of child labour and has set a target to end child labour in all forms by 2025, as laid out in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
The European Union recognises that child labour is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach. The European Union also recognises that many forms of child labour are linked to poverty and lack of access to education, and therefore the eradication of child labour requires a broader effort to ensure that children have access to quality education, healthcare, and other basic services. As outlined in the Decent Work Worldwide Communication, EU actions in this area include supporting and enforcing effective legislation against child labour; promoting social welfare programmes for poor households that are vulnerable to child labour; and strengthening access to education, including in situations of conflict or crisis and for children who are on the move both within and between countries, and providing them with protection services. Within the European Union, the European Strategy on Rights of the Child reinforces our commitment to eliminate child labour, to respect the rights of all children and empower them.
One of the key components of the European Union’s approach to addressing child labour is to promote corporate social responsibility and sustainable supply chains. The Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence, proposed in 2022, requires EU companies to perform due diligence to address human rights abuses, including child labour, in their supply chains. This is in line with the European Union’s commitment to promoting sustainable business practices and ensuring that companies respect human rights.
The European Union is also involved in several projects and programmes aimed at eradicating child labour. The CLEAR COTTON project aims to combat child labour in the cotton supply chain, while the Sustainable Cocoa program promotes the use of sustainable cocoa production methods and works to prevent child labour in cocoa farming.
The European Union also provides funding for development programmes aimed at reducing child labour, such as the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC+), and has supported initiatives to combat child labour in specific sectors such as mining and construction.
In addition to these projects and initiatives, the European Union also has minimum standards for the protection of children, which are in line with, and generally provide a higher level of protection than the ILO Conventions on minimum age (No.138) and worst forms of child labour (No. 182), which establish international minimum standards for the protection of children in the workforce.
The European Union recognises that the elimination of child labour requires collaboration and partnerships with governments, international organisations, social partners, and civil society and has strengthened its partnership with the United Nations and other international organisations to combat child labour, in particular.