The European Business Council for Africa

The European Commission will invest €10 million in a new action that mainly targets agriculture value chains, where child labour is prevalent and exports to the EU significant. European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen announced it at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, which takes place in Durban, South Africa, on 15-20 May. The conference is organised by the government of South Africa, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Alliance 8.7.

“Child labour is a complex problem with many root causes. To address this, the EU has provided over €200 million to support 150 projects targeting child labour in 65 countries since 2008, and remains committed to exploring innovative approaches to intensify the fight against child labour. Today, I am proud to announce that, as we boost efforts to scale up food security in partner countries, the EU is investing €10 million in a new action to target child labour in agriculture value chains. By working strategically – whether it’s on value chains, education, or supporting livelihoods, we can get closer to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending all forms of child labour by 2025. The EU is proud to be joining Alliance 8.7, and we look forward to working with all to enhance knowledge and scale up best practices that work,” said the Commissioner Urpilainen at the high-level panel.

Child labour is on the rise globally, with 160 million children being victims of it worldwide, according to the latest estimates. The Commissioner highlighted two focus areas to better address child labour, while outlining the EU contribution.

First, policymakers, companies and consumers have their share of responsibility to ensure that global supply chains are free of child labour. The new action, backed by the EU in cooperation with key organisations, targets especially agriculture value chains because child labour is widespread and some tasks are extremely hazardous for children. The action will help share knowledge and data, and implement projects with different partners on the ground to fight child labour. Moreover, this new action will help support the implementation of the new proposed EU legislation on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence requiring EU companies to assess risks, identify and end child labour, or other practices threatening workers and the environment, in order to access EU markets.

Second, we need to give all children access to education to eliminate child labour. Improving education is the EU priority. €1 in every €10 of the EU’s development funding supports this objective. Numerous EU-funded projects tackle child labour through education. For instance, the CLEAR Cotton project has already removed 4,000 children from working in cotton fields and reintegrated them into schools or training centres.