The Commemoration of World Day Against Child Labour: Progress and Policies in the European Union


 It's a time when the international community, civil society, and individuals alike come together to highlight the plight of child labourers and the measures that need to be taken to secure their rights and ensure their development. At the heart of the European Union's (EU) ethos is the steadfast belief in protecting all children's rights. This has prompted the EU to enact various policies that serve as poignant examples for the rest of the world in the fight against child labour.

The Prevalence and Impact of Child Labor

Child labour remains a significant global issue, with an estimated 152 million children around the world engaged in labour that is detrimental to their physical and mental development. The practice undermines the right to education, leading to a cycle of poverty and exploitation. In this context, the EU has recognized the urgency to combat child labour not only within its borders but also globally.

The EU's Approach to Child Labor

The EU's approach to combating child labour is multifaceted, ranging from legal frameworks and political dialogues to international cooperation and trade policies. One such effort was the adoption of Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work. This directive sets minimum age limits for employment, restricts the number of hours children can work, and ensures that the jobs do not harm their health, safety, or development.

EU Policies: From Principles to Practices

The EU has incorporated the fight against child labour into its wider human rights and development policy. It staunchly supports the International Labour Organization's (ILO) conventions on the minimum age for admission to employment (No. 138) and the worst forms of child labour (No. 182). This stance is reflected in the EU's strategic framework for human rights and democracy.

The EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) is a prime example of its innovative policies to tackle child labour. Countries benefiting from the GSP+ must ratify and effectively implement 27 international conventions related to human and labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance. Failure to comply can lead to a withdrawal of the trade preferences, serving as a compelling incentive for countries to address child labour.

Promoting Fair Trade is another key EU policy to curb child labour. The EU's Fair Trade movement ensures that products entering the EU market are free from child labour. It also encourages consumers to make informed choices, fostering a culture of socially responsible consumption.

World Day Against Child Labour

EU Projects on Child Labor

The EU's commitment to fighting child labour is not just theoretical; it is also demonstrated in concrete projects and financial aid. An example is the EU's contribution to the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour (IPEC+). This programme focuses on countries with high incidences of child labour, aiming to build national capacity for change.

The EU-funded CLEAR Cotton project also deserves mention. Implemented across Burkina Faso, Mali, Pakistan, and Peru, this project aims to eradicate child labour in the cotton supply chain by strengthening national and local capacities, enhancing access to quality education, and supporting decent work opportunities for adults.


The World Day Against Child Labour is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the plight of millions of children trapped in exploitative and dangerous work conditions. While progress has been made, much work still lies ahead. The EU's comprehensive approach and its blend of policies, practical projects, and cooperative initiatives serve as valuable strategies that can inspire global actions.

By endorsing initiatives like the World Day Against Child Labour, the EU is sending a clear message: the welfare of children cannot be compromised, and child labour must be eradicated for the betterment of our global society. The commitment and actions of every nation, large or small, play an essential role in ensuring a future where every child is free from labour and can fully realize their potential.

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