The European Parliament’s Intergroup Fighting Against Poverty organised a meeting jointly with EAPN on 29 January 2019 in Brussels to present and exchange on EAPN’s 2018 Poverty Watch reports.
The event “Poverty Watch: The reality of poverty and social exclusion in the EU” discussed the state of play on poverty in the EU in 2018 and explored what can be done, in the context of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Europe 2020 Strategy and the SDGs. The meeting gave an overview of EAPN’s main findings, key messages and recommendations on poverty across the EU from the EAPN Poverty Watch Report Summary, based on 16 National Poverty Watches with present 4 of these poverty watches in Spain, Italy, Finland and Lithuania as well as testimonies from people experiencing poverty, from Spain and Finland .
MEPs and the European Commission responded and discussed ways forward.
- Poverty is a violation of human rights and a political choice! People are too often blamed and stigmatised for poverty. Poverty has mainly structural causes and can be overcome with political will.
- Poverty is still unacceptably high and not decreasing in many countries, with growing disparities across the EU and increasing hidden poverty ie the homeless, people in institutions, migrants, women as well as gaps in the AROPE and other indicators.
- Poverty is driven by growing inequality between people, countries/regions – inequality is growing between rich and poor as governments fail to back strong redistribution mechanisms (continuing austerity cuts, insufficient tax justice/adequate benefits/universal, quality public services). There is a growing gap between people, countries and regions – particularly urban/rural.
- Not all groups face the same risk of poverty – Children, women, larger families and single parents as well as young people; people with disabilities, migrants and Roma/Travellers, homeless people as well as long-term employed need thematic integrated strategies and more targeted and personalized support. In some countries older people facing growing risks.
- The lack of an adequate income to cover living costs is the key priority for a dignified life. This is currently not adequately captured in EU or national data or strategies.
- A job alone does not guarantee a route out of poverty – in-work poverty is growing along with precarious jobs based on new exploitative business models.
- Minimum income and Social Protection do not adequately protect people from poverty, with inadequate levels, people falling out of the system or caught in poverty traps, failing to keep people close to the labour market and society. Negative conditionality is increasing hardship and undermining effective pathways into sustainable jobs.
- Lack of affordable housing (particularly social), rising energy/ health and food costs are forcing people into unacceptable choices: leading to indebtedness, use of foodbanks, increased homelessness and evictions, disconnections from energy supply and poorer health.
- Unequal public education and lifelong learning systems are leaving many children, young people and adults behind and contributing to intergenerational transmission of poverty.
- NGOs/Community sector play a key role: in supporting the participation of people facing poverty and providing key social services, but face increasing threats with attacks to their freedom of speech and cuts in funding.
Read all recommendations in the Poverty Watch Summary here (page 21)
“Poverty is not something you expect, or that you think will ever happen to you. You wake up one morning and you’re in it.”
– testimony of Chema De León, EAPN Spain, during the event.
Follow the debate on Twitter with the hashtag #PovertyWatch
Presentation of the main findings ‘Poverty Watch’ – Sian Jones, EAPN Policy Coordinator
Country specific presentation
– Jiri Sironen, EAPN Finland
– Graciela Malgesini, EAPN Spain
– Rimgailė Matulionytė, EAPN Lithuania
– Letizia Cesarini-Sforza, EAPN Italy
113 million people still face poverty and social exclusion in the EU, with little progress on the Europe 2020 poverty target, to reduce poverty by at least 20 million by 2020. The gaps between countries also get wider.
Although income inequality started to reverse in 2017, driven by the faster increase of income for lower income households, this did not compensate for the significant increases of the past years. In 2017, the 20% richest people in the EU still have a disposable income that is 5.1 times higher than the poorest 20%.
For further information on content, please contact Sian Jones (Policy Coordinator)
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +32 2 226 58 50