In spite of the overall wealth of the European Union (EU), poverty in the EU is still at a relatively high level and rapidly increasing, with 16.9% of the EU population, that is about 85 million people, at risk of relative income poverty and more than 124,2 million people or 24,8 % of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion – whether being at risk of relative poverty, severely materially deprived or living in a household with very low work intensity.
The financial crisis, but even more so the response to the crisis through austerity measures, have clearly generated more poverty. However, the extent and seriousness of the problem is often not well understood either by policy makers or the general public. As a result, sufficient urgency is not given to its eradication. Often this is because people only think of poverty as being something which is so extreme that it threatens people’s very existence and they associate this mainly with developing countries.