Wednesday, September 20, 2023
MEP Helmut Geuking welcomed the speakers and participants to the conference which had been preceded by a religious mass centered around the preciousness of children. He also spoke about his party- Family Party Germany- emphasizing that it is deeply anchored in Christian values and focused on families and children's wellbeing.
He continued mentioning his initiatives regarding children education subsidies and financial aid for disadvantaged families with children. MEP Geuking is shadow rapporteur in the report “Reducing inequalities and promoting social inclusion in times of crisis for children and their families”, an Own Initiative Report by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament. He is pushing for the recognition of the cost of bringing up a family.
The focus of the conference was the Commission's program: the European Child Guarantee. In Mr. Geuking's view, the program is not sufficiently funded and therefore the results are not as robust as they need to be.
Chiara Piccolo, the managing director of the Alliance for Childhood, presented the work of the organization and thanked Mr. Geuking for being the Alliance's ambassador to the European Parliament. The Alliance for CHildhood is a network of around 20 organizations working to improve children's lives from various perspectives. They work to increase the respect for children's agency and autonomy, to create awareness of the needs of children and to develop solutions to problems which could endanger a good childhood. The Alliance serves as a platform where policymakers, medical practitioners, researchers and parents collaborate to create policies, spaces and practices which protect and promote a child's wellbeing and development, with children's input and participation.
Ms. Piccolo highlighted the importance of the European Child Guarantee, at a time when 1 in 4 children in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The long-term effects of the COVID19 pandemic, the cost of living and the climate crisis are exacerbating the already existing inequalities, she explained. For this reason, the ECG must be properly implemented and fully funded.
ECPM's General Director, Maarten van de Fliert, also thanked MEP Geuking for his collaboration on these topics and mentioned one of ECPM's spearheads: Healthy Families, adding their importance for the society and for a harmonious development of children.
The final two speakers were Rev. Dr. Joebarth Abba and Rev. Hans Schmeinck who had led the religious service preceding the conference. They spoke about the Imago Dei we all carry within us and about the preciousness of children and their protection. Dr. Abba stressed the importance of the family in the education of the child and the right of parents to be involved and consulted about what their children are taught.