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On Brexit day, young people’s voices on our relationship with Europe matter more than ever

31 January 2020

On the day the UK leaves the EU, charities Children in Scotland and Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) are calling for young people’s voices to be included in discussion on the UK’s future relationship with Europe, including in negotiations about rights, trade and EU funding.

Over the next six months the organisations will be sharing children and young people’s views on Brexit from their landmark participation project the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe.

The Panel, comprising 19 members aged 8-19, all of whom were too young to vote in the EU referendum, is supported by Children in Scotland and Together and funded by the Scottish Government to ensure the views of children and young people inform Brexit decision-making processes.

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“Although the UK leaves Europe today there is still an 11-month transition period, during which the UK Government will try to agree a trade deal. We will be using that time to ensure that those most affected by Brexit in the years to come – and the least involved in the decision to leave the EU – are heard.

“The children and young people we’re working with on the Panel still have an important opportunity to positively influence the shape Brexit takes and how it impacts them in Scotland. They’ve already told us what they think about some of the fundamental issues likely to be covered in the trade talks, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from them in this second phase of the project. ”

Juliet Harris, director of Together, said:

“Children and young people on the Panel are clear that Brexit must not have a negative impact on human protections. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights contains strong protections for children’s human rights and yet it will no longer apply after the UK leaves the EU.

“The Panel has made progress in getting the First Minister to commit to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law by May 2021. However, much more is needed to protect and secure children’s human rights after Brexit.”

In their report Listen To Us (click to read), published last year, young members of the Panel identified key Brexit priorities for the UK Government. These include:

The Panel said: Scotland (and the rest of the UK) should retain strong trade links with Europe. This was more important than the UK being able to make its own trade deals with countries outside of the EU.

The Panel said: The UK Government and Scottish Government should fully incorporate the UNCRC as soon as possible. Full incorporation of the UNCRC would hold adults to account and ensure the needs of children and young people are met after we leave the EU. The UK Government and Scottish Government should make sure that all other human rights protections that we currently have as a member of the EU should be retained after we leave the European Union.

EU Funding
The Panel said: The UK Government and the Scottish Government should continue to contribute to Erasmus+. This will allow young people to study, volunteer and participate in youth work projects in Europe and allow young people from other EU countries to study, volunteer and participate in youth work projects in the UK.

Tackling uncertainty
The Panel said: All children, young people and their families should be able to learn about children’s rights. The Scottish Government needs to develop online hubs for children and young people to learn about politics to help inform them about big issues like Brexit.

In December Children in Scotland, alongside 19 partners including Together, produced a Manifesto for the new UK Government (click to read) which also outlined the Panel’s priorities on EU funding; opportunities to work, study and travel abroad; and the economy, trade and jobs.

Media contacts:

Lynn Gilmour,
Jennifer Drummond,

Notes for editors:

Children in Scotland

Giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish is at the heart of everything we do.

By bringing together a network of people working with and for children, alongside children and young people themselves, we offer a broad, balanced and independent voice. We create solutions, provide support and develop positive change across all areas affecting children in Scotland.

We do this by listening, gathering evidence, and applying and sharing our learning, while always working to uphold children’s rights. Our range of knowledge and expertise means we can provide trusted support on issues as diverse as the people we work with and the varied lives of children and families in Scotland.

Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights)

Together is an alliance of Scottish children's charities that works to improve the awareness, understanding and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

We do this by:

  • promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • helping children's organisations to integrate the UNCRC into their work;
  • monitoring and reporting on the progress made at a Scottish and UK level.

Our growing membership is made up of a range of children's charities, from small local playgroups through to large international charities, alongside individuals, academics and professionals with an interest in children's rights.

"Listen to us on Brexit"

The Panel on Europe produced a report and set of recommendations in February 2019

Click to download the report

"It gives me hope for the future"

Watch a video to find out more about the Panel and the first phase of the project

Click to watch the film