|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.36, 4.10.01, p4|
SOCIAL affairs chief Anna Diamantopoulou will next week publish the European Commission's first-ever formal assessment of deprivation across the EU, warning that almost one in five of its citizens live in poverty.
The commissioner's report will testify that 60 million people live below the poverty line in the bloc and that the UK, Portugal and Greece have the highest concentrations of poor people.
She warns that if member states are to achieve the goal of building inclusive societies then "significant improvements need to be made in the distribution of resources and opportunities".
The poverty report will be compiled every year in future, with the aim of forcing governments into tackling social exclusion. "If we develop a series of agreed indicators member states will be compared with one another and peer pressure will mount," said Diamantopoulou's spokesman Andrew Fielding. "In the end the goal is to use this community tool to squeeze poverty out of the system." In the report, a person is considered poor if they live in a household where income is below 60 of the national average.
By measuring deprivation in this way rather than comparing incomes to a fixed poverty wage, the Commission says the figures allow for the wide variation in the cost of living between different member states. The report categorizes 18 of the EU as poor. In Portugal the figure is 23; in Greece and the UK it is 22. Ireland, Spain and Italy also all have poverty levels above the Union average. The lowest poverty rates are in Denmark (8), Finland (9) and Sweden (12).
The report concludes that there is a "clear correlation" between expenditure on social protection and poverty levels. "Member states with the most developed welfare systems and with high per-capita social expenditure levels tend to be the most successful in both ensuring access to basic necessities and keeping the numbers falling below relative poverty lines well below the EU average," it states. "Women were more likely to be living below the relative poverty line than men in nearly all member states." The report also assesses member states on the quality of their proposals for tackling poverty. Even though Portugal has a high level of poverty, Diamantopoulou praises it for promising strong action. However, she criticises wealthy Luxembourg for submitting an inadequate plan.
Social affairs chief Anna Diamantopoulou is due to publish the European Commission's first-ever formal assessment of deprivation across the EU, warning that almost one in five of its citizens live in poverty.
|Subject Categories||Employment and Social Affairs|