AGF-Statement on the German draft National Action Plan “New Opportunities for Children in Germany”

Logo der Europäischen Garantie für Kinder

For the family organisations within the AGF, the European Child Guarantee is an important instrument both for combating child poverty in Germany and for at least mitigating the social inclusion deficits of children and young people. It was for this reason that the AGF made its voice heard very early by setting up a series of workshops and producing recommendations on the central topics of the EU Child Guarantee and its implementation in Germany.
The AGF greatly appreciated the German government’s commitment to the adoption of the European Child Guarantee throughout the drafting process, especially during the German Council Presidency in 2020. The joint declaration, which was initiated by Germany and finally endorsed by 24 Member States, had a lot of support from the German family associations, as well as from COFACE Families Europe.
Consequently, the AGF welcomes the fact that Germany, although one of the six remaining EU States that have not yet adopted a National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the EU Child Guarantee, has now presented at least a working version of the NAP, which has yet to be agreed between the different ministries and obtain their approval.

Overall impression: the NAP lacks a future-oriented element
However, the family organisations regret that, as is evident in the draft, the Federal Government falls short of fulfilling its role as supporter and promoter of the European Child Guarantee, not only in terms of time, but also in terms of content. One of AGF’s recommendations was that, for the successful implementation of the Guarantee, “the National Action Plan that is to be drawn up, the AGF expects the Federal Government to encourage substantial progress in the individual thematic areas for opportunities for disadvantaged children to participate in society. The basis must be the objectives of the Child Guarantee against the background of the current situation in Germany. This means that the Action Plan must, where appropriate, go beyond the individual demands of the Child Guarantee in order to achieve its basic goals. It will not be sufficient to limit measures to those that already exist.”
Regrettably, the draft NAP precisely represents the scenario that is deemed to be unsatisfactory. There is scarcely any mention of new approaches inspired by the Child Guarantee that will lead to a fundamental improvement in the living situations of poor children and young people or those at risk of poverty. Instead, the NAP makes it clear that no additional financial resources will be provided. However, to combat child poverty and improve social inclusion, further targeted investments are needed in the fields of action mentioned in the Child Guarantee, such as education, health and the living environment of children and young people in particular. The NAP lacks a visionary and future-oriented element, an element that contrasts the problem of poverty and its consequences among children and adolescents, which is split up into departments and social security codes and disaggregated into federal, state and municipal responsibilities, with the prospect of improved cooperation and approaches that bring together federal responsibilities, including any necessary investments. While other countries with similar structural conditions at least attempt in their NAPs to take a perspective on overcoming the fragmentation of poverty reduction and social inclusion policies, the German Action Plan remains a mere report and in its ambitions even falls behind the coalition agreement of the current federal government from 2021.

The statement predominantly covers these subjects:

  • Description of the need for action
  • Planning and measures: extensive lists, no progress on content
  • Measures are set side by side
  • Listed plans fall short of the coalition agreement
  • Participation and cooperation
  • Monitoring
  • Interdepartmental budgets for the implementation of the EU Child Guarantee