by Proinsias De Rossa (PSE)
to the Commission

Subject:     Child labour

I welcome the commitment given by Commissioner Neilson, in his reply to my Oral Question H-0405/03 1, to consider possible support for the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, and the proposed inclusion of child labour in the tentative list of joint objectives/priorities between the Commission and the ILO in the framework of the proposed EC/ILO Strategic Partnership.

Could the Commission outline what progress has been made to date and indicate how it proposes to make sufficient funds available to allow for concrete follow-up activities in this area?

Answer given by Mr Nielson
on behalf of the Commission
(21 November 2003)

The Commission is finalising for the end of 2003 a Strategic Partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the field of development co-operation. A strategic approach to the elimination of child labour through the promotion of primary education has been identified as the first priority to be developed in the framework of the Partnership.

This strategy intends to address the issue of education in the context of the fight against child labour. This is particularly relevant with respect to the efforts made by the Commission within the Education for All agenda. The primary objective of Community policy on education and training, achieving education for all in line with the millennium development goals, cannot be accomplished without addressing the problems of school aged children who are working.

In this context it could be useful to identify the root causes of this phenomenon, that is to say the gap between children's rights in law and the reality in which they live on a daily basis. This could be addressed by timely targeted actions to help destitute families and support them through community networks at local level.

The strategy on child labour and education will address, in this pilot phase, specifically the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regional dimension, and the Commission envisages drawing on the European Development Fund allocation for Intra-ACP co-operation.

The operational partner will be the ILO International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). This strategic action would be additional to the existing ILO/IPEC programme. The funding will focus on actions, which are not part of the regular base activities of ILO/IPEC. First, while IPEC interventions in broad terms are most advanced on Asia and Latin America, the Commission's funding will allow to reinforce targeted actions towards the ACP countries. Accumulated experience and best practices from Asia and Latin America will be used to promote targeted action in ACP countries to allow more children subject to forced labour to access and complete their primary schooling. Secondly, this funding will support targeted initiatives in education.

1 Oral answer, July 1, 2003

India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - December 3, 2003