Poverty on the rise in EU
Europe’s economic crisis is pushing more people to the brink of poverty and social exclusion.
According to figures released on Monday (3 December) by the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, over 24 percent of the EU population in 2011 was either struggling with low income or have extremely poor living conditions.
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“More than 27 percent of children are now at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, that is much more than the overall population,” said EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor said in a speech in November
At the bottom of the scale is Bulgaria where nearly half the population is suffering from some form of poverty.
Most of Bulgaria’s poor is concentrated in rural areas where agriculture generates about half of total household incomes.
Low birth rates, migration, and increased infant mortality have widened the poverty disparity gap with its cities. Poverty is now four times higher in villages when compared Sofia.
The country is followed by Romania and Latvia at 40 percent, Lithuania at 33 percent and Greece at 31 percent. In Germany, the figure is nearly 20 percent.
The EU average represents nearly a one percent increase compared to 2010 when it had launched its ‘European year of combating poverty and social exclusion’.
The anti-poverty year, budgeted at €26 million, was aimed at renewing political commitments of member states to help reverse the trend.
The European Commission, for its part, allocated €500 million in November in its annual programme for 2013 to help feed Europe’s hungry. The fund is estimated to benefit some 18 million people.
It wants to extend the programme and requested some €2.5 billion, allocated from the European Social Fund, in the EU’s next 7-year budget cycle. Member states would pay 15 percent of the costs in their respective national programmes with the EU fund covering the rest.
The Brussels-executive also plans on adopting a recommendation for child poverty early next year.
The proposal will put forward ideas on how to ease parent access to the labour market, provide income support, and provide early childhood education and health care.