The report "Combating child poverty: an issue of fundamental rights", released today, concludes that one in four children under the age of 18 years is at risk of poverty and social exclusion throughout the European Union.
The document, which refers to the year 2016, indicates that the average of the 28 countries does not reflect, however, "significant national disparities".
In Member States like Romania (49.2%) and Bulgaria (45.6%), almost half of the children were at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Portugal better than Spain, Italy and Greece
Over 30% of children were at risk of poverty and social exclusion in countries such as Greece (37.5%), Hungary (33.6%), Italy (33.2%), Spain (32.9%) and Lithuania (32.4%). The lowest percentages were in Denmark (13.8%), Finland (14.7%) and Slovenia (14.9%). Portugal was among the countries with between 20 and 29% of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Risk affects European children globally, but it is worse in some groups, including Roma and migrant communities.
According to the study, 90% of Roma children in nine Member States are poor.
The average number of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Europe has fluctuated a little over the last 10 years compared to the period before the economic crisis and the launch of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which has poverty reduction as one of the main objectives .
In 2008, the average number of children at risk in Europe at 27 was 26.5%. During the economic crisis, this percentage increased to 28.1% in 2012. In 2016, the average is 26.4%, a rate similar to that of 10 years ago, according to the most recent European statistics cited in the study.
This rate is also higher than the 23.5% risk in the general population.
In absolute terms, there are almost 25 million children in the European Union at risk of poverty and social exclusion, a risk that affects boys and girls alike.
Inadequate education and health care threaten children's fundamental rights by preventing them from seizing opportunities and breaking the cycle of poverty, the FRA concluded.
"Child poverty has no place in Europe, one of the richest regions in the world," said FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty.
"We have the means to help end the deplorable conditions experienced by many European children. We need the EU and member states to honor their commitments to children's rights to give them a better future," he added.
The report stresses that combating child poverty "is also a matter of fundamental rights" and suggests implementing a set of measures to address the problem.
Strengthen child protection legislation and policies, prioritize the protection of vulnerable children, establish a European system that guarantees each child housing, food, health and education, linking funding to Member States to the results of combating poverty, inequality and exclusion and the adoption of policies to reconcile work and family are some of the proposed measures.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is an independent body, funded by the EU budget, and has the task of providing EU institutions and Member States with information, assistance and skills in the field of fundamental rights.