Skip to main content
Migration and Home Affairs

Legal framework to protect children

The strategy will ensure that existing EU rules are fully implemented, particularly Directive on combating sexual abuse and exploitation of children. In 2019, the Commission was compelled to open infringements procedures against 23 EU countries for non-compliance with implementing the directive. They followed the publication of two reports in 2016, which provided an overview on the progress made and showed that the Directive had not yet reached its full potential through complete implementation by the EU countries.

An interim Regulation to ensure that providers of online communications services can continue their voluntary practices to detect and report child sexual abuse online and remove child sexual abuse material was adopted in 2021. At the expiry of the Interim Regulation in August 2024, providers falling within scope of the ePrivacy Directive will have no EU legal basis to keep detecting on a voluntary basis.

According to Article 7 of the Regulation, providers are obliged to communicate to the Commission the names of organisations acting in the public interest to which they report online child sexual abuse. Under Article 3, they are also obliged to submit a report on the processing of personal data under this Regulation.

According to the information received by the Commission, online service providers report to the National Center for Missing Exploited Children (NCMEC).

To communicate the required information, or ask for more information, please use the address: HOME-FIGHT-AGAINST-CSAatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (HOME-FIGHT-AGAINST-CSA[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu).

In addition, Article 8 of the Regulation requires that EU Member States, by 3 August 2022, and on an annual basis thereafter, shall make publicly available and submit to the Commission reports with statistics referring to online child sexual abuse. EU Member States reports are available at the bottom of the page.

A new proposal to fight child sexual abuse in the European Union:

On 11 May, the European Commission proposed a Regulation on preventing and combatting the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. This new legislation aims to help EU countries to:

  • detect and report child sexual abuse online
  • prevent child sexual abuse
  • support victims

Stakeholders' consultation and process ahead and after the adoption of the new Proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse

Relevant stakeholders expressed their views on the proposal over the course of two years, identifying problems and ways forward in the fight against child sexual abuse, both online and offline. An open public consultation was conducted in 2021 with the aim of gathering the views of public authorities (including Law enforcement), industry, civil society organisations, academia as well as EU citizens. In February 2022, the Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board issued a positive opinion with reservations, following which the Commission prepared annotated responses.

Following the adoption of Commission’s Proposal in May 2022, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Data Protection Board (EDPS-EDPB) issued opinions on the proposed legislation in July 2022 with the European Commission providing comments and explanations on some elements of the Joint Opinion with regard to the proposal for a Regulation on preventing and combating child sexual abuse. In addition, the Commission prepared a paper which describes the relations between the CSA proposal and the legislative instruments most relevant to it, i.e. the Digital Services Act (DSA), the Terrorist Content Online (TCO) Regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Interim Regulation.

The Commission presented the proposed Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament on 10 October 2022.

Further details on the scope and implementation of the proposal have been included in the exchanges between the Members of the European Parliament in charge of preparing the European Parliament position and the Commission.

On 6 April 2023, a Draft Final Complementary Impact Assessment on the Commission Proposal for a Regulation Laying down Rules to Prevent and Combat Child Sexual Abuse, prepared upon commission by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has been presented. Commission services provided comments on some elements of this Complementary Impact Assessment.

In addition, the Commission prepared a non-paper expanding on the compatibility with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU of the proposed system of detection orders in respect of interpersonal communication services, as a response to the Opinion issues by the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union.

The Commission services are assessing how to proceed with regards to the time-frame between the expiration of the Interim Regulation and the potential adoption of the Proposed Regulation.

Learn more about the proposed legislation on the dedicated website (Legislation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse) and consult the Frequently Asked Questions.