Tuesday, 24th November 2017

ECPAT UK has contributed to an important new discussion paper, Making Brexit work for children, outlining concerns about the impact of Brexit on children. We are concerned about the lack of consideration about Brexit’s implications on child protection and safeguarding. To ensure children’s rights and needs are safeguarded post-Brexit, we joined with other UK children’s experts to form the ‘Brexit and Children’ coalition.

Children comprise a quarter of the UK population and are currently protected by 80 pieces of EU legislation protecting their rights and entitlements in areas including migration, asylum, child protection, health and safety, paediatric medicine, access to social and economic rights and cross-border family breakdown. However once the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is passed, the UK will cease to operate within EU jurisdiction, creating space for the UK government to implement new legislation and public authority.

Widespread concerns have been raised regarding the use of Government delegated powers to amend laws without facing parliamentary scrutiny. In the Withdrawal Bill, these powers can be used wherever the Minister believes it is ‘appropriate’. There is a particular concern given that Brexit will remove any children’s rights safeguards currently offered by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

To ensure the impact of Brexit on children is considered at all stages of the exiting process, our research makes the following recommendations:

  • The Government should ensure that all existing protections for children’s rights in the EU legislative framework are protected and preserved in domestic law.
  • The needs of children and young people should be considered in determining the settlement status of EU nationals, and for this group to able to apply for settled status in their own right.
  • The Government should put a strategy in place to continue membership of EU-level data, criminal justice intelligence-sharing, training, research and security infrastructure with a view to protecting children, particularly child victims of trafficking, child victims of online abuse and children in Europe abused by British nationals who may be affected by cross-border criminal investigations.
  • In light of inflationary uncertainty caused by Brexit, the Government should end the current benefits freeze in place until 2020 to protect low-income families.
  • The Government should guarantee that the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund will continue funding projects supporting children and young people post-Brexit.
  • The UK should remain part of the EU family framework that regulates cross-border family law cases which offers the best protection for children’s rights.
  • The Government should ensure that children and young people across the UK are given the opportunity to express their views on all issues of relevance to them during the Withdrawal process.

Download 'Making Brexit work for children'

The work of the Brexit and Children coalition follows the publication earlier this year of the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group's briefing paper on the impact of Brexit on Modern Slavery in the UK.


Press contacts

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK: 020 7607 2136, [email protected]

Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns, ECPAT UK: 07890 120834,  [email protected]