03 Mar 2011

Brussels Conference on “Left Behind” – 2 March 2011


European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Europe, together with 40 organisations to discuss how to face psychosocial effects of economic migration.

Fondazione L’Albero della Vita, in collaboration with Fondazione Patrizio Paoletti and Eurochild, held at the European Parliament in Brussels on 2 March the Conference Left Behind – The impact of economic migration on children left behind and their families.

The alarming phenomenon of children who are left behind by their parents when they migrate in search of employment involves over 500.000 children within the EU and it is constantly increasing. This concerns many European countries and in particular, researches report of 350.000 children in Romania, over 110.000 in neighboring Moldova and 9.500 in Lithuania. Over 100.000 children are estimated to be concerned by this situation in Poland and around 8.000 in Latvia.

Policy makers must take into account such social consequences of economic migration, otherwise long term effects can reach dramatic levels. Fondazione L’Albero della Vita together with its partners and the participants called upon the EU institutions to implement concrete actions.

In particular they called on the European Commission to collect data on the phenomenon at European level and consider this issue when elaborating policies in the framework of the EU 2020 strategy.

They have also called on the European Parliament to analyse the issue within the work of some relevant Committees, specifically in the context of the EU Agenda on Children’s Rights and the future Recommendation on Child Poverty. Patrizio Paoletti, President of Albero della Vita has introduced his intervention focusing on responsibility that society has to take in order to move towards social development and protect children’s rights. According to his words, European Institutions must fulfill their duty to provide with orientation to new generations, collaborating in favour of social cohesion and for socially sustainable actions.

Marie-Anne Paraskevas, European Commission DG Employment and Social Affairs, pointed at a new study on emigration where the topic of children left behind will be considered.

MEP Mazzoni, representing also MEP Angelilli, opened the debate and suggested as a first concrete action to discuss about children left behind in relevant Committees, in their reading of the EU Agenda for children’s rights.

MEP Geringer de Oedenberg underlined the EU responsibilities, since this phenomenon is a consequence of the EU fundamental freedoms, and called on Commissioner Viviane Reding. Moreover, she stressed the need of immediate concrete actions but also of long term solutions, to be implemented also through structural funds.

MEP Plumb who has been following and bringing to the public attention this phenomenon for years has expressed the urgency to start concrete actions, in the EU but also outside. She underlined the gender dimension of migration which should be considered and she welcomed the creation of the network childrenleftbehind.eu as an important tool for action.

Humbert de Biolley, Deputy Director of the Liaison Office to the EU of the Council of Europe, underlined the specific vulnerability of these children, already recognized by the CoE in its strategy for children’s rights in 2008.

Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General Eurochild, suggests to start consider children’s voice, the importance of considering children as actors and not only victims in order to allow them to make sense of the migration experience.

L’Albero della Vita wishes that all actors will implement these actions as soon as possible.