This paper explores the role of the European Union in creating and developing policies that address, or indirectly affect, children and youths in the context of the labour market. The paper will start by sketching the qualitative and quantitative significance of children in the EU labour market, and discuss the relevant EU competences. It will then touch upon a range of EU instruments that affect children and youths in the context of the labour market, both as direct addressees - the Young Workers Directives and initiatives within the context of the European Employment Strategy - and collateral addressees -pregnant workers and parental leave directives, childcare initiatives, and instruments pertaining to anti-poverty and social inclusion, education, victims' protection, trafficking and child exploitation. The paper will also discuss the external dimension of this topic, by considering the impact that the EU's enlargement, neighbourhood and external policies have on children in the context of the labour market. Finally, the paper will assess the compatibility between the instruments and policies considered and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers 1989, and the relevant ILO instruments. The conclusion will determine the scope for improvement of the current state of affairs, and present policy recommendations.
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