Stop excluding children from Brexit dialogue, Commissioner and Scottish children’s sector groups tell UK parliamentarians

13 September 2017

Children must be heard and their views sought on Brexit, representatives from Scotland’s children’s sector and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner will tell parliamentarians at a special event at Westminster today.

The Commissioner will be attending the House of Commons event Children’s Rights Following Brexit along with:

Three calls around Brexit and children’s rights

The group, which is coordinating to raise the profile of children’s rights and Brexit at a UK level, is making three key calls around Brexit and children’s rights:

Keep children involved and informed in discussions around Brexit

Despite being due to inherit the full impact of Brexit as they grow up, children have been excluded from discussions about it, both in the run-up to the referendum and since the decision to leave the EU was made. A coherent structure now needs to be put in place to ensure they are involved and kept informed.

Children and young people are disproportionately affected

Children and young people have benefited significantly from EU membership and are disproportionately affected by the issues raised pre-Brexit and by withdrawal.

Politicians should give children’s views a platform

Politicians at the forefront of the Brexit debate need to acknowledge and better understand the issues that are affecting children and young people, and need to give children’s views the platform they deserve now.

The Commissioner said:

“Children and young people in Scotland, and across the UK, have the right to contribute their views to the Brexit negotiations and should be given meaningful opportunities to do so. Information on how Brexit could affect their lives should be provided in a child-friendly format and then their views sought in both formal and informal ways.
“The EU has enacted a significant amount of legal instruments which give direct entitlement for children in areas which include child migration, asylum, child protection through to paediatric medicine.
“Legislation which keeps children safe covers child trafficking, child abduction and child sexual exploitation. Much of this has been transposed into domestic law and this has to continue post Brexit. But what is often forgotten is the cross-border EU activity that supports all of this. One example is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which provides a fast track expedition procedure across EU Member States. This ensures those who commit crimes against children are arrested and returned to their country to answer charges. Scotland also needs to be able to continue to access EU data, intelligence sharing and security infrastructure.”

Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said:

“We're only just beginning to understand the full impact that leaving the European Union could have on children and young people. From family law and child protection through to tackling child trafficking and poverty, the European Union provides children and young people with fundamental rights and protections that are now at risk. In representing the children’s sector at today’s event, we hope parliamentarians begin to recognise and understand the importance of ensuring children and young people’s rights are at the heart of every decision made from now on.

Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive, Jackie Brock, said:

“According to YouGov, 71% of 18-24-year-olds in the UK voted to Remain in last year’s referendum. The voices of this generation, 16 and 17-year-olds who were disenfranchised from voting in the referendum, and younger children, are being sidelined in the Brexit debate. Yet it’s they who will most feel the impact of our withdrawal from the EU.”
“There is a clear democratic deficit being reflected in the Brexit negotiations. We need our politicians to take notice, demonstrate awareness, and bring children’s voices into the heart of this debate.”

Find out more

Evidence on Scotland's relationship with the EU

This 2016 response to the Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee explores the role the EU has played around the rights of children and young people in Scotland.