Tuesday

9th Mar 2021

One in four young people in EU at risk of poverty, study says

  • Twenty countries recorded a higher rate of poverty and risk of social exclusion among young people than among the general population. (Photo: Helena Spongenberg)

Almost a quarter of the EU's population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to statistics released Wednesday (8 February), with 13 member states recording a rise in the number of their citizens considered vulnerable.

The figures for 2010 show that 115 million Europeans, or 23.4 percent of the EU population, live in households with less than the poverty-threshold disposable income, in households where there is severe material deprivation (such as a lack of heating) or where the adults worked less than 20 percent of their total work potential.

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

Bulgaria has the highest percentage of population (42%) falling into one or more of these categories, followed by Romania (41%), Latvia (38%), Lithuania (33%) and Hungary (30%).

While 13 of the 25 member states that provided information recorded a rise in the numbers affected when compared with 2009, Spain (23.4% to 25.5%) and Lithuania (29.5% to 33.4%) saw the greatest leap from one year to the next.

The lowest rates of poverty and social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (14%), Sweden and the Netherlands (both 17%).

The deprivation figures were even higher among those under 17 years of age with 27 percent of youth across the EU falling below the threshold. In all, 20 countries recorded a higher rate of poverty and risk of social exclusion among young people than among the general population.

Romania's youth are the worst off in the EU where almost half of them (48.7%) are vulnerable. Young people in Bulgaria (44.6%) and Latvia (42%) fare little better - while Bulgaria also distinguishes itself by having by far the highest percentage of elderly people - 55.9 percent - considered deprived.

The poverty statistics come atop of unemployment statistics published last week recording a record high jobless rate in the EU, with some 23 million people without work.

Joblessness and poverty has been pushed up the political agenda in the EU with analysts increasingly questioning the merits of the austerity drive in the eurozone as governments seek to rein in spending - with the public sector the first in line to be hit.

At a summit at the end of January, EU leaders made a point of devoting debate and the subsequent summit conclusions to plans for economic growth - but there were few spending commitments while the EU commission itself is limited by the fact that employment is largely a member state power.

Meanwhile, the current harsh winter temperatures have thrown a spotlight on Europe's homeless and socially vulnerable people, as hundreds have died due to the cold across the continent.

The media in Belgium, home to the EU's institutions, has been reporting for several days on the need get people off the streets as temperatures have at times plunged to around minus 20. But the reporting has also highlighted the plight of people who have fallen into arrears on rent, are living in poorly-insulated apartments and are unable to pay for nutritious food or afford heating bills.

An appeal in response to the cold called Winter2012, run by Belgian broadcaster RTBF, since the beginning of the week has seen around 5,000 calls lodged.

Some 75 percent have been by people offering to help in the form of bedclothes, shelter and heating. The rest are calls by people looking for aid. Of these, half wanted heating, 15 percent bedclothes, 10 percent lodging and 5 percent voluntary assistance.

EU anti-poverty plan lacks substance, says civil society

The European Commission unveiled on Thursday a ten-year plan to combat poverty in the bloc, aiming to cut the number of people living in poverty by 20 million by 2020. Anti-poverty campaign groups cautiously welcomed the plan, but said that the EU needs to go further than "good intentions" with "urgent actions."

Opinion

Europe 2020 and the battle against poverty: back to square one?

A lack of political willingness among member states to tackle poverty as well as the technical possibilities offered by the adoption of three separate ‘poverty indicators' to circumvent the agreed 2020 poverty reduction target means Europe's poor may not be better off in ten year's time, writes Wim Van Lancker.

EU unemployment hits record high

Twenty three million people in the EU are struggling to find jobs, as the economic crisis and austerity cuts unfold into severe social consequences.

News in Brief

  1. EU industry lobbies for 'double' CO2 perks
  2. Italy passes 100,000 corona deaths, and it's not over
  3. Mask-buying affairs embarrass Germany's top party
  4. EU talks on Kosovo and Serbia mark 10-year anniversary
  5. Ex-PM says Erdoğan pulling Turkey away from EU
  6. Report: EU to blacklist Myanmar conglomerates
  7. Suspected Chinese hackers hit EU banking regulator
  8. Belgium: Political pressure to abandon curfew

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Von der Leyen on vaccines: 'We're tired of being the scapegoat'
  2. Ethiopia: Time to tell the truth, Ambassador
  3. EU Commission 'surprised' by Belgian travel ban extension
  4. Lack of legal clarity on EU 'pushbacks' of migrants at sea
  5. Africa and Arab world still in vaccine race starting blocks
  6. Frontex's 'serious incident reports' - revealed
  7. Women hit 'disproportionately' hard by Covid-19, report finds
  8. EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us