“ When my children are not there, I don’t heat my apartment. For the food, I eat less. I don’t want them to feel that I don’t have money. I tighten my belts. The hardest part is that I cannot give them what I would like to,” explained Fabrice to Secours Catholique – Caritas France, a sing le father who shares custody of his three children and who lives off EUR1,100 per month .
Caritas Europa is concerned about the fate of the approximately 123 million poor people in Europe who, like Fabrice, struggle to make ends meet. Their situations are not the result of bad luck, but stem directly from the prevailing policies that prioritise economic recovery from the 2008 economic and financial crisis, instead of addressing the consequences this crisis is still having on millions of people across Europe
If Europe doesn’t change tack on austerity now, we’ll continue condemning the next generations to endemic poverty.
In its new report "End Poverty in Europe – Our solutions to make it happen" (to be presented on 14 April in The Hague to the Dutch EU Presidency) Caritas Europa contributes with 18 recommendations to the debate on new European social welfare models, built on social inclusion, investment and social protection as well as human and social rights. Caritas Europa believes that the implementation of these models would help everyone, and particularly the five groups identified in the report as being most at risk of poverty and requiring most urgent political action: long-term unemployed; working poor; single parents; migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; and children.
To address the particular situations of these groups of people, Caritas Europa recommends European leaders to, among others:
1. Monitor the efficiency of current social protection systems and benefit schemes in reducing poverty, including in the areas of housing, health care and taxation, with a particular focus on the identified groups at risk;
2. Introduce a Child Guarantee with a specific fund, which allows every child in poverty to access free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition;
3. Improve working conditions in Europe by ensuring the smooth implementation of the European Parliament’s Resolution on effective labour inspections, systematically evaluating and monitoring national labour inspection offices’ capacities to reduce and prevent precarious employment, sanctioning unlawful employment practices, and introducing an EU-wide standard definition of “precarious employment” as an indicator in the EU-SILC survey;
4. Encourage EU Member States to implement minimum income schemes that efficiently reduce the levels of “at risk of poverty” and eliminate extreme poverty;
5. Encourage EU Member States to adjust the minimum wage amount to a level that, in combination with other benefits available to the individual, allows an individual’s household to cover basic needs and to live in dignity.
“At Caritas Europa, we believe that Europe has the capacity and tools to not only lift 20 million poor out of poverty by 2020, as stipulated in the Europe 2020 Strategy, but to also truly move the 123 million people living in poverty out of this heinous trap,” said Shannon Pfohman.
Cover photo/ Getty / Jeff J Mitchell