Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

Bailout austerity hurts most vulnerable, charity says

  • Greece - currently at the crux of the anti-austerity debate in Europe - stands out as a particularly problematic case. (Photo: Emiliano)

Greece has received fresh ammunition in its negotiations with creditors, as a new report about poverty in bailed-out countries paints a grim picture of the social cost of austerity.

"The people paying the highest price currently are those who had no part in the decisions that led to the crisis, and the countries worst affected are amongst those with the biggest gaps in their social protection systems," according to the latest "Crisis Monitoring Report" published Thursday (19 February) by Caritas Europa, a pan-European charity.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The study was carried out in seven countries who were particularly hit by the crisis and/or received international financial assistance in the past years: Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

The report examines the situation of children, working poor, the unemployed, migrants and people with disabilities.

Greece - currently at the crux of the anti-austerity debate in Europe - stands out as a particularly problematic case.

Caritas Greece runs a soup kitchen and clothing delivery project, which has seen demand increase over the past year, both for Greek people and immigrants.

"The number of Greek people that avail themselves of the social common meals has, in the observation of Caritas Greece, increased at an exponential rate - many of these people were until recently successful freelancers but now have no money to satisfy their basic living needs," the report reads.

"Within the past year, in particular, Caritas Greece has pointed to serious reductions in both income and purchasing capacity affecting all those on low wages, including the working poor, pointing in particular to the hardship caused by increased electricity charges and transport costs," it adds.

The left-wing government led by Alexis Tsipras, elected last month, has repeatedly spoken of a "humanitarian crisis" that the bailout-linked austerity has brought upon Greece.

The Tsipras government has promised to pardon half of the debt of those who cannot afford to pay their taxes and focus on the rich tax-evading Greeks.

A total of €76 billion in unpaid taxes and social contributions is due to the Greek state. "But realistically speaking, only about €9 billion can be clawed back," finance state secretary Nadia Valvani said on Wednesday.

Debt relief, however, runs against the requirements linked to the current bailout that eurozone partners want Greece to extend beyond its 28 February expiry date.

A loan extension request is expected on Thursday, but it remains unclear how much of the austerity requirements the Tsipras government will subscribe to.

According to the Caritas report, Europe needs to shift away from its focus on austerity.

"The evidence collected in this report, and in previous reports in this series, leads us to again conclude that the policy of prioritising austerity is not working for Europe and to urge again that alternatives be adopted."

"This runs counter to the mainstream narrative that the policies co-ordinated from Europe and enshrined in Europe’s new governance structures are working and that more austerity is what is required - but when the situation is examined from the perspective of the vulnerable people of Europe it is impossible to agree," says the report.

Charity documents 'human cost' of EU austerity

A charity has gathered evidence of rising poverty, discrimination and exclusion in seven EU countries that have undergone austerity programmes in return for international loans.

Opinion

Gift of giving at Xmas? Not unless EU tweaks rules

EU and national policymakers would do well to make a New Year's resolution to encourage a growing interest in donating to good causes far from home - by extending Europe's single market benefits to philanthropy.

MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

The gas-boiler industry is pushing for hydrogen to be allowed to heat homes — but as well as being riskier for explosions and exacerbating asthma, experts dub domestic hydrogen 'a dangerous distraction'.

Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by another 0.5 percent to a 14-year high, and expects to hike rates by another half percent in March. But what does that mean for the green transition?

Opinion

The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

The EU must realise the need for a trade agreement with Mercosur. The timing has never been better. The recent election of the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, marks a fresh start to move forward on the Mercosur Agreement.

Latest News

  1. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  2. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  3. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  5. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  6. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  7. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  8. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us