Monday

22nd Apr 2019

EU populism feeds on poverty, World Bank warns

  • Former EU commissioner and World Bank chief Georgieva will launch the report in Brussels on Thirsday (Photo: worldbank.org)

The World Bank has warned that deepening economic inequality in the EU risked fuelling populist politics.

The US-based development body is to say in a report, out on Thursday (8 March), that inequality has been "mounting in many parts of the EU since 1990 as low-income Europeans have been falling behind in the labor market."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Warsaw: National EU economies have prospered, but poor regions getting left behind (Photo: Alexey Topolyanskiy)

Its figures show that the earnings of the poorest 10 percent of Europeans fell by 7 percent in recent decades, while the earnings of the EU's wealthiest 10 percent grew by 66 percent.

The report notes that poor regions in parts of eastern Europe, such as Hungary and Poland, still have less than 50 percent of the EU average GDP per capita, even though national economies in the east have prospered.

It says most of southern Europe - Greece, Italy, and Spain - is falling further behind the EU curve due to low productivity and low growth.

It also says that technological change has wiped out 15 percent of manual jobs in Europe in the past 15 years.

Manual workers in Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, and Slovenia, were the hardest hit, the report notes.

The report adds, according to highlights released to press on Wednesday, that economic pessimism is rational in these areas and should be taken "very seriously" by EU institutions.

It also warns that that pessimism can be easily exploited by populist politicians.

"The machine will stall unless steps are taken to ensure people benefit equally", Kristalina Georgieva, the World Bank chief executive and a former EU commissioner, said in a statement ahead of the publication.

Arup Banerji, who is in charge of the EU countries department at the World Bank, said: "The EU is growing, but Europeans are not growing united".

Georgieva added, in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper: "If left unattended, the risk is right there that people feel disenfranchised, disillusioned, and left behind."

"There will be fertile ground for populism - not necessarily for [politicians] who come up with solutions, but people who come up with the right slogan," she added.

"The convergence machine of the EU is still working - but it's not working for everyone and there are signs of growing divides," she said.

"Low-income Europeans are falling behind in the labour market across much of the EU. If this is not addressed, there will be a growing inequality with all the consequences of that," Georgieva said.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us