Barnardos. (1997). Towards Transnational Co-operation for Children. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/941
Europe, it seems, is full of paradoxes. For all its recovery
from devastation over the past fifty years, for all its economic and technological sophistication, it has become a
virtual minefield for children. True, many children prosper from a standard of living never before imagined and
benefit from highly developed education and health systems. But the paradox is that in this same Europe increasing numbers of children and young people are experiencing poverty, are homeless, are affected by family breakdown, by abuse and exploitation, by migration and by war
and civil conflict. Thirty years ago we thought we had put
the worst ravages of the past behind us.
In each Member State of the European Union - in fact, in
each country in the world - organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental, are responding as best they
can to the needs of children and families. While some problems may be exacerbated by local or national demographics, policies or circumstances few, if any, are unique.
Neither are their solutions. Increasingly child welfare is,
and must be seen to be, a global issue. Problems of sex
tourism or child labour in Asia cannot be resolved in that
continent alone - they require global solidarity and intervention if they are to be challenged effectively.
Some European Union policies, however well-intentioned, have in some respects had a negative effect on
children. The free movement of labour has implications
for the child who must follow his or her parent as he or
she seeks employment in another Member State, as it does
for the child left at home in the care of a third party.
Changes in industrial and agricultural polictes have
affected children as have policies relating to broadcasting,
advertising and the environment. By the same token
expertise gained in addressing problems in one country
has relevance for the task of finding solutions elsewhere.
It is, I believe, appropriate for the member states of the
European Union to retain responsibility for matters of child
and family welfare. But it is essential that the transnational.
nature of many of the issues affecting children in Europe
to-day be acknowledged and acted upon. The principle of
subsidiarity is not weakened by this reality yet it has been
used by some member state governments as a shield to hide
a lack of commitment to European-wide action in the interests of children. Indeed it has been salutory over the past
year to contrast the horror expressed at the Dutroux case in
Belgium and the queue of politicians to speak from the
Stockholm Conference platform with the failure of the
Intergovernmental Conference to include adequate provisions and protection for children in the revision of the
Treaty. It is quite scandalous that the European Union has
greater powers in relation to animal welfare than it has for
Meanwhile the task of responding as best we can to the
needs of children and families in Europe continues. There
can be no doubting the merit of transnational co-operation
and collaboration; the sharing of ideas, resources and
expertise; the evaluation of both successes and failures.
Over the past six years it has been my privilege to be an
active member of the European Forum for Child Welfare
since it was founded. Supported over most of that time by
the European Commission it has been influential both in
addressing many issues concerning children and stimulating collaborative action between member organisations in
various parts of Europe. Now, as its President, it gives me
great personal pleasure to introduce this volume of papers
which has been produced by my own organisation,
Barnardo’s (Ireland) in association with EFCW and supported by the European Commission, DGV (Social Policy
The papers which comprise this report address a diverse
range of issues and concerns for those of us who seek to
co-operate transnationally in the interests of children.
There are seven contributions but there could have been
seventy - there are so many issues and perspectives concerning children. Yet what the collection may lack in completeness and complementarity is more than compensated
for, | believe, in its representation of a common theme
illustrated from radically different perspectives: the necessity and urgency of the task of working collaboratively
across national boundaries in the interests of children.
When one considers how its achievement would enhance
the relevance of the Union to its citizens, demonstrating
as it would, true cohesion, equality and unity, it is indeed
paradoxical that it is not already being celebrated.
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