National systems and administrations, including child protection systems are increasingly under pressure, and the rising number of arrivals of migrant children revealed gaps and shortcomings in the protection of all groups of children in migration. The Communication on the Protection of Children in Migration (COM(2017)211 final) was published by the European Commission on 12 April 2017 to address these issues. The document sets out a range of actions to be taken or better implemented by the EU and its Member States in order to ensure effective protection of all migrant children and calls for the need to step up cross-cutting actions at all stages of migration. These include better and more targeted use of EU financial support, improved data collection, and adequate training of people working with children in migration. The Communication actively promotes a human rights-based approach to the protection of migrant children based on the principle of the best interests of the child, and strongly encourages EU Member States to allocate more and diversified funding to achieve effective protection of all children regardless of their migration status.

The European Commission has been actively facilitating exchanges of good practices, providing financial support to pilot integration projects for all migrant children and putting the integration of unaccompanied migrant children as a priority under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020, while calling for early access of migrant children to inclusive formal education. However, fragmented data on children in migration, a limited use of other EU funds such as ESIF, FEAD, EaSi and the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, as well as the need for a coordinated follow-up at EU, national, regional and local levels represent major challenges. In particular, the Communication encourages an efficient use of relevant EU funds by Member States and civil society organisations including the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme 2016, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), DG EAC funding, DG ECHO funding, DG DEVCO funding, the European Social Fund (ESF), and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).

Following the publication of the Commission’s Communication, Ministers adopted Council conclusions to reaffirm that children in migration have the right to be protected, in line with relevant provisions of EU law, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and with international law on the rights of the child.