1985-2012 Poverty in Europe

From bad to worse

The number of poor people in Europe had increased from 38 million in 1975 to 44 million in 1985. {Interim report on the 2° European Poverty Programme – EU Commission 1989} But soon this figure went up in 1985 having already 50 million people living in not acceptable poverty. {Eurostat 1990} and mounting up to 57 million with incomes below the poverty line in 1993. {Eurostat 1997}

Belgium had 729 000 persons or 7,5% living in poverty in the 1980s, Holland 706 000 persons or 4,8%. The United Kingdom (14,8%) was just under Ireland 15,7%) but had to find a solution for 8 436 000 people. {Hagenaars a.o.}

At that time there was already too much inequality? Afterwards the rich continued to get more rich, the poor ones stayed poor, but the middle class got pressed in more and more in the corner and saw their savings diminishing and got poorer.
More people got pushed to the edge of society, which limited their access to resources and opportunities, curtailed their participation in normal social and cultural life leaving them feeling marginalised, powerless and discriminated against.
In Europe more and more people had to go living from day to day with no savings or reserves for times of crisis such as losing a job or falling ill and thus falling into debt.

Minimum European income to fight poverty?

Minimum European income to fight poverty?

In 2008 the rate of poverty varied between 10% and 23% in the countries of the European Union. In 2010, 115 million people, or 23.4% of the population, in the EU27 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were at least in one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity. The reduction of the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy2.

As in 2008 the Scandinavian were able to keep their healthy position. Sweden got with the Netherlands about 15% people at risk. Low levels of poverty characterize also the so-called Corporatist countries (Austria, Germany) with Austria, Finland and Luxembourg (all 17%), and the Czech Republic (14%), Slovakia and Slovenia among the ex-Socialist countries.

European Union

European Union (Photo credit: ana branca)

In 2008 the risk of poverty tended to be relatively high in the Mediterranean and the Baltic states.  In spite of the overall wealth of the European Union (EU), poverty in the EU kept at a relatively high level.  Nearly 1 in 7 people are at risk of poverty.  In the EU27 in 2010, 27% of children aged below 18 were affected by at least one of the three forms of poverty or social exclusion, compared with 23% of the working age population (aged 18-64) and 20% of the elderly (aged 65 and over). Children were most affected in 20 Member States, while the elderly were the most touched in Bulgaria, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden. In Denmark, it was the working age population which was the most affected. In 2010, the highest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in Bulgaria (42%), Romania (41%), Latvia (38%), Lithuania (33%) and Hungary (30%).

Europe facing Combating Year 2010

Demographic balance, 2010 (1 000 persons) - Source: Eurostat

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social ExclusionThe European Union was one of the richest areas in the world, but in 2010 17% of EU citizens had such limited resources that they could not afford the basics.

Though one of the most prosperous regions in the world poverty remained a huge and even became a bigger problem, affecting 75 million people in the EU were „at risk of poverty“ in 2008 and an estimated 84 million people in 2009. Altogether around  in 2010 this went up to 85 million.

It sound crazy for such a welfare state that some 7 million people in 2010 had to survive on less than €5 a day. A similar proportion suffers what is known as ‘material deprivation’: money is so tight that they cannot keep their homes warm enough or meet unforeseen expenses, for example. Roughly one person out of ten across the EU lives in a household where no-one has work.end-poverty

Some groups in society are more vulnerable than others, and they include women,  children, disabled, unemployed and older people, migrants and single parents. For example, one child in five in the EU lives at risk of poverty. Furthermore, while having a job normally makes people better off , 8% of workers do not earn enough to rise above the poverty line: they are the working poor.

Countries with the highest poor population included then France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. In 2010 Latvia got 1° place with 21.3%, Romania 21.1%, Spain 20.7, Bulgaria 20.7%, Greece 20.1%, United Kingdom 17.1%, Belgium 14.6%, Netherlands 10.3%.

A close-knit family in Bucharest - when it comes to space

A close-knit family in Bucharest - when it comes to space | In the poorest countries the poor communities have less problems with social exclusion, called ‘integrated poverty’ if we listen to sociologist Serge Pauman

Obligated to take action

In 2010 Europe had already no choice but to take action against the rise of unemployment and poverty. The way governments managed and co-ordinated their exit from the crisis then did not bring a solution or gave incense to fertilise the markets and fix the financial system.

Greece (20.1%) and Portugal (17.9% Persons at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers) are like in a whirl pool pulled downward into a economic spiral. Spain (20.7%)  and Italy (18.2%)  as well see the lesser growth and investment which is being sacrificed, creating an alarming increase in  unemployment. Economic analysts agree that the wage cuts, longer working hours, cancellation of several public holidays and tax hikes have led people in Portugal to spend less and save more, not to create a solid foundation for stability, but to sink further into poverty. For the Greek masses, the word ‘austerity’ has meant the demise of labour, economic and human rights and the dismantling of an inefficient yet crucial social welfare system. Greece once a country with universal healthcare has now many of the people who show up in public hospitals who can’t even afford the five-euro general admission fee introduced two years ago. Ten percent of patients don’t even have insurance. ‘Doctors of the World’, a volunteer team in the remote Athenian district of Perama, which has weathered unemployment rates of nearly 50 percent since the collapse of the local vessel reconstruction port, provides free treatment, medical supplies and foodstuffs to people lacking social insurance. The health of Portugal’s public finances has begun to improve, but the economy is showing worrying signs of weakening. The population is suffering from the austerity measures, and it is estimated that the middle class will lose 20 percent of its purchasing power in 2012. More bad news for the economy next year is that unemployment is set to rise from the current 12.6 percent to 13.6 percent, while inflation is expected to reach three percent.

Fertile ground for unrest

With cuts in consumption and public spending, as well as slower growth in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium this does not promise some positive evolution, certainly when governments are going to look fro cutting in wages or taking away the safety belt for consumerism like in Belgium, wanting to get rid of the index. The governments first should try to stop the acceleration of the recession and should do everything to get back the consumer credibility so that the private consumption can go up again.

People coming on the streets in Greece can be the beginning of more social unrest in Europe if nothing is done against the negative spiral of the economical crisis.
In case the politicians do not take care we are not only going to face a further recession, accompanied by more social unrest. The danger luring around the corner is political radicalisation and institutional fragmentation, with some countries leaving the eurozone and even the EU itself.

16% of the population in the EU27 at risk of income poverty in 2010

File:Eurostat logo RGB 60.jpg

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union provided some figures in a report3  based on data from the EU-SILC survey4 for 2012 with details on 2010.

Population, EU-27, 1960-2011 (1) (at 1 January, million persons) - Source: Eurostat

The own citizens do not have it easy and could find nearly 25 % more asylum applicants in the EU-27 during the second quarter of 2011, compared with the second quarter of 2010. Nearly 69 000 asylum seekers applied for asylum in the EU-27. This represents an increase of about 12 800, or 23 per cent more compared with the second quarter of 2010.
On 1 January 2011 the population of the EU-27 was estimated at 502.5 million; this was 1.4 million people more than the year before and therefore continued a pattern of uninterrupted EU-27 population growth that has been apparent since 1960. The number of inhabitants in the EU-27 grew from 402.6 million in 1960, rising by almost 100 million persons through to 2011.

Homeless and hungry - Photo HippyKitty

With 16% of the population in the EU27 at risk of income poverty in 2010 we do know that with the economical crisis this figure went up sky high. So Europe is not facing a nice future. On e of the big problems in Europe is that the public does not want to know that there could be problems of lesser wellness around them. The extent and seriousness of the problem is often not well understood because not enough institutions and politicians want to tackle the problem publicly. Policy makers are more interested in the things they can score high marks with and be popular by the general public. Poverty is not exact the interesting subject to score with. On the other site there is also the problem of immigration and the homeless people. The increasing street people are considered a pestilence which every winter causes a lot of annoyance and disturbance in political landscape. In Belgium, as in many European countries, issues relating to homelessness are not loved to be discussed in the media, except around Christmas. Yet deaths among rough sleepers have taken place all year, having in England and Belgium always enough rain to soak the cardboards where people sleep on. It is also strange that many people do think the homeless chose to be like that and prefer to live free on the streets.

Without prospects near the stairs going down Brussels Euro Capital

The population should become more aware that people do not choose to be homeless, they find themselves in that situation. There are studies that suggest that those people without a roof above their head really would prefer to have shelter. There is not enough affordable social housing in Belgium. It really is a problem. Efforts to address homelessness have been hampered for years, by the fragmented nature in which the country is governed.
Politically it is also a matter of discussion about whom to allow entering the country and who to allow to stay in the country. 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.  However, the reality is that poverty in the EU is a very real problem which brings misery to the lives of many people.

2012

Europe makes 2010 its year for fighting poverty and social exclusion

Working poor (Image: ©zeynep'arkok/ Flickr)

Now with the economical crisis it has become worse. More and more, families and individuals got in a precarious situation because of losing their savings, work or having to face an income which is too low to get the necessary things to live decently. Because of their low income many encounter difficulties in having proper accommodation. The question regularly comes down to what you do when rent exceeds half of a family’s income. Everyone with a low income is especially vulnerable to financial problems when faced with unexpected costs such as a higher energy costs, social arrangements or a medical bill. It is not only Greece were we can see people being strangled by the many family costs which are accumulating debts. More and more people start not seeing the end of the tunnel and even choose to make an end to their life, but leaving the others with even more problems.

Looking at each of the three elements defining at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 16% of the population in the EU27 in 2010 were at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers, meaning that their disposable income was below their national at-risk-of-poverty threshold1. The highest at-risk-of-poverty rates were observed in Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain (all 21%), and the lowest in the Czech Republic (9%), the Netherlands (10%), Slovakia, Austria and Hungary (all 12%).

8% severely materially deprived

In the EU27, 8% of the population were severely materially deprived, meaning that they had living conditions constrained by a lack of resources such as not being able to afford to pay their bills, keep their home adequately warm, or take a one week holiday away from home1. The share of those severely materially deprived varied significantly among Member States, ranging from 1% in Luxembourg and Sweden to 35% in Bulgaria and 31% in Romania.

Severely materially deprived persons have living conditions constrained by a lack of resources and experience at least 4 out of the 9 following deprivation items: cannot afford 1) to pay rent/mortgage or utility bills on time, 2) to keep home adequately warm, 3) to face unexpected expenses, 4) to eat meat, fish or a protein equivalent every second day, 5) a one week holiday away from home, 6) a car, 7) a washing machine, 8) a colour TV, or 9) a telephone (including mobile phone). Not that a television and telephone are necessary things, we can do without that. Fish and meat are also not necessary, but natural biological food to make up a healthy vegetarian meal is much more expensive than the more common meat-meal.

10% living in households with very low work intensity

Having a job does not guarantee social inclusion if it is poor quality and low paid. Some 8% of working adults live below the poverty threshold; their income may not be enough to protect their children from poverty. About a quarter of working Europeans are still in jobs
of relatively low quality, and because of the strong link between poor-quality work, social exclusion and poverty, the ESF devotes more than half of its budget to helping workers to upgrade their skills, and businesses to improve their organisation.

Poverty barometer

Regarding the indicator on low work intensity, 10% of the population aged 0-59 in the EU27 lived in households where the adults worked less than 20% of their total work potential during the past year. The United Kingdom and Belgium (both 13%) had the largest proportions of those living in very low work intensity households, and Luxembourg, Sweden and the Czech Republic (all 6%) the lowest. In Trebišov, Slovakia, the 3 500 Roma residents suffer almost 100% unemployment.

Latvia has the largest proportion of its population at risk of poverty in Europe. Although women’s employment is above the EU average, the country suffers from high rates of joblessness among 15 to 24-year-olds, and of long-term unemployment. ESF co-funding in Latvia is specifically targeted at fighting poverty and social exclusion, by developing an inclusive labour market and drawing in disadvantaged groups such as released prisoners, recovering addicts, homeless people and returning migrants. Initial results showed that 20% of social rehabilitation beneficiaries obtained work or started training or further rehabilitation.{The European Social Fund: a cornerstone in the fight against poverty and social exclusion}

Portugal’s 20 largest companies invested 23 percent less in 2011 than in 2010, which severely affected economic growth and produced drastic job losses. The National Institute of Statistics (INE) said unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2011 reached 14 percent for Portugal, the highest jobless rate since records began to be kept. Youth unemployment is even worse, at 35.4 percent. But the situation is much worse than the official figures suggest, as INE recognises only 770,000 unemployed persons within an economically active population of nearly 5.6 million – a figure that only includes unemployed persons who were available for work, and actively seeking work, during the survey period.

Measures taken

All measures taken after 2010 did not seem to bring the right turn in the avalanche. As two years ago we still need to act on the various factors that contribute to social exclusion and have to recognise that not enough help has been given to get people from the life on the streets. Instead of continuing the programs to develop their skills and have better jobs, those schemes seem to be reduced in many countries, also in Belgium.
Instead of demanding securities when governments gave money to factories or the industry, they got lured by the companies, who misused the money of every citizen in that community, without any blush on their face when they throw out all the workers. Therefore the countries in the EU should not only have to shape labour markets in a way to create more opportunities for people living with disabilities or belonging to vulnerable minorities, they also should take care that funds or state intervention in businesses shall be properly used and give enough opportunities to the workforce. Instead of weakening the endurances and social services we have to improve them, and help men and women to reconcile family and work. We have to share experience and make our social welfare systems more efficient. And, most importantly, we have to start acting now if we want to see poverty and social exclusion significantly reduced by 2020.

It is a shameful indictment of our society that we are not able to give all the people living in our society a reasonable life, and that we do not find a solution to get homeless people off the streets and provide them with some good accommodation. Not only the physical survival has to be taken care of, we should make sure that everybody living in Europe shall not be risking to be excluded from full participation in their society.

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Please do find:

  1. At risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU27
    In 2010, 23% of the population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion
    …and 27% of children aged less than 18
    > Eurostat STAT/12/21
  2. Poverty and Inequality in the European Union
  3. A European Union economic forecast for 2012 indicates Portugal is the EU country that will grow the least. > Side Effects of IMF Medicine
  4. See picture details
  5.  Greeks Discover the Politics of Poverty
    By Apostolis Fotiadis
    According to European mainstream economists and politicians, the solution to the Greek debt crisis, and the only option for returning the country to a path of progress, is ‘fiscal consolidation’. MORE >>
  6. Poverty Across Europe: A Comparison Between Countries
  7. The Cost of Disabilities Could Reach 77.2% of Household Income
    A team of researchers have for the first time estimated the cost and impact of disabilities on the finances of disabled people. According to data, 90% of the population with a serious disability in Spain is in a state of moderate poverty and 56% lives in a state of extreme poverty.
  8. Platform against poverty
    The fight against poverty is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy. Some 116 million people (or almost a quarter of the EU population) are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, falling under at least under one of the following criteria: 1) being at-risk-of poverty after social transfers (81 million); 2) being materially deprived (42 million); or 3) living in workless households (34 million). The impact of the economic crisis has hit the most vulnerable and disadvantaged the hardest. Combating social exclusion and promoting social justice and fundamental rights have long been core objectives of the EU, which is founded on the values of respect for human dignity and solidarity. A prosperous Union must ensure that its benefits accrue to all segments of society, bringing growth and social cohesion together. Economic growth with more and better jobs is a key factor to fight poverty and must be part of a coherent policy approach which balances economic, financial and social measures within the 2020 Strategy.
    +EESC opinion: European platform against poverty and social exclusion

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Related you may read as well:

  1. Homeless in the Heart of EU
    On a wet afternoon in Brussels, a dishevelled man shelters from the elements in a side entrance to the city’s main railway station. Beside his feet a green canvas bag carries all his worldly possessions. He has been homeless for a decade now; he has asked several times to be given accommodation by the Belgian authorities, but his request has never been granted. Often he sleeps rough.
  2. Anti-Crisis anger calling out
    At last, in many countries there seem to be people who want to let hear their voice, making it clear they had quite enough of this system where certain folks can keep enjoying good life at the cost of others. … continue reading →
  3. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #3 Right to Human dignity
    Universality – the idea that human rights apply to all people, in all places, at all times – was the basic principle underlying the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From the … cont →
  4. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #4 The Family pact
    The Family pact Family and poverty: there is a narrow mutual connection between both terms. Poverty makes humans vulnerable and can destroy families. Sometimes the poverty goes so far that they take away the revenue … cont →
  5. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #5 Housing
    Housing Just over 84 million persons or 17 % of the EU-27‘s population were at-risk-of-poverty in 2007, while a similar proportion (17 %) of the total EU-27 population suffered from material deprivation. There was a … cont →
  6. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #8 Work
    Work Work-related factors were the principal explanations given as to why people were poor or excluded from society, the three main reasons being long-term unemployment (35 % of respondents giving it as one of up … cont →
  7. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #9 Consumption
    Consumption People with higher incomes are likely to consume more goods and services, and to attribute a far higher proportion of their expenditure to ‘non-essentials’ such as holidays, visits to restaurants, or other leisure activities. … continue reading →
  8. Word on the Street Is…
    People have lost their jobs as companies have down-sized, leaving families to suffer. Parents have had to make the difficult decisions whether to pay the rent or buy groceries each week.
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    As homelessness increases, the stereotypes and prejudices increase as well. However these stereotypes are not typically true. It is the stereotype that everyone on the streets has a history of drug and alcohol addiction and brought the situation upon themselves.
  9. Combatting the misconceptions of homelessness

    Homelessness - Photo Homeless, Not Hopeless Blog

    Homeless, Not Hopeless
    Homelessness has been a major issue worldwide and it is only getting worse. More children are running away from abused homes, which have caused them to be homeless and hungry.
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    There are homeless shelters and soup kitchens that can provide food for those who can not afford a meal, however it is not right for someone to constantly be dependent on others for a free meal. People do not understand the way that someone sitting on the streets is treated.
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    Many people especially parents complain that they don’t want their children  growing up where the percentages of homelessness are increasing dramatically, however these are the first ones who turn their back to the homeless who ask for help.  This goes to prove that the majority of the people who complain about the homeless taking over the streets are the same ones who never pitch in money or their time to help the homeless.

  10. Getting a count of homeless youth
    Youth Services joined forces with homeless shelters across the nation counting everyone who slept in their beds that night; volunteers canvassing homeless camps and gathering areas to determine who slept in abandoned buildings, cars, camping grounds or other outdoor settings. We did our part by surveying youth and families we served through our free counseling, Homeless Youth Walk-in and our Juvenile Receiving Center services.
  11. Beyond the Homeless Myth
    If the problem was a lack of shelters for the homeless why aren’t all the homeless shelter always full? During winter they are more busy but more shelters won’t solve the problem.
  12. Befriend a Homeless : It’s Easy to Help a Friend
    Maybe not everybody needs a friend (though most of us actually do), but no one should have to struggle alone. Yet, our homeless professional survivors often have nobody to turn to. Outside of their environment, they have no one to talk to, no one to lean on, no one to give them advice, no one to just give them a hug. As much as they need a friend the most, not many ever thought to befriend a homeless person.
  13. The scandal of child poverty in Europe
    Across Europe, whole families – children, parents and grandparents – find it hard to escape poverty as it is passed on from one generation to another.
  14. Bailout ‘helps stabilise Greece and Europe’
    In Brussels, the mood was one of congratulation that the marathon to agree Greece’s second major rescue – in principle – was finally at an end. Much of the multi-billion euro deal comes from strong arming private investors, forcing them to take heavy losses on their existing bonds.
  15. Minimum European income to fight poverty?
    Given persistent shortcomings of minimum wage policies, legislators and organisations instead debate the merits of ‘minimum income’ to combat poverty in Europe. But it remains to be seen whether the EU parliament will force continent-wide reforms
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    Rebeka Smith of Businesseurope (the confederation of European business) affirms that while ‘employment has to be viewed as one of the prerequisites for combating poverty,’ unemployment is only one of the principal issues. Given the proliferation of precarious jobs and low wages, 8% of workers still approach poverty despite earning salaries.
    +
    the Brussels-based European anti-poverty network (EAPN), founded in 1990, recently launched a campaign in favour of minimum income. On the website of their initiative there is support from people such as the Danish president of the European socialists group Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, and the French vice-president of the committee of the regions (CoR, a European institution), Michel Delebarre. Members of the greens have also rallied in favour of the initiative. Échos d’euro-écolos (‘Echoes from European ecology party members’) is one blog run by two young MEPs of the party, Karima Delli and Pascal Canfin, defends not just a minimum, but also a maximum income.
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    Ensure an Adequate Minimum Income for all!
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    Vers un revenu minimum européen?
    +Join the EAPN campaign for Adequate Minimum Income schemes!
  16. Europe makes 2010 its year for fighting poverty and social exclusion
    When the ‘Lisbon strategy’ was launched in March 2000, EU member state leaders said that they wanted to take decisive steps towards eliminating poverty. Ten years later, during the worst economic crisis since 1929, the EU has named 2010 its year for fighting poverty and social exclusion. It’s about time, too
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    French sociologist Serge Paugam expands on this definition of poverty, explaining that poverty creates a state of dependence. What it is like to live in this state of dependence, he says, varies according to the type of society you happen to live in. He therefore divides poverty into three different types: ‘standard poverty’ (found mainly in poor countries, where poverty is common), ‘marginalised poverty’ (in countries where there are fewer poor people) and ‘exclusion poverty’ (the most striking type, becoming more and more common in wealthy countries undergoing an economic crisis). In other words, 79 million people in Europe are experiencing poverty in quite different ways.
  17. EAPN’s Input to 2012 Commission Recommendation on Child Poverty – SPC Adhoc group questionnaire

  18. EAPN calls on President Barroso to demonstrate that solidarity with people and not markets is the basis for the financial aid packages
    In the wake of the new “bail out’’ package for Greece by the “Troika’’, EAPN has sent a letter to President Barroso, copied to the Heads of the IMF and ECB, setting out 5 key actions, consistent with the agreed Europe 2020 strategy, that should be taken in all countries in receipt of such economic support. These actions are aimed at reversing the attacks on social rights that has been a key feature of these “bail out’ packages to date.

  19. Europeans ageing faster, but are more diverse
    Sixty years ago the number of births rose sharply and remained high for about 20 to 30 years. Now the first of those baby-boomers, have reached the age of 60 and have started retiring. This marks a turning point in the demographic development of the European Union and makes it all the more important to consider the policy responses that are required by this major change. The EU is facing challenges on issues like sustainable public finances, increasing productivity and improving support for families. Major reforms and decisive action are necessary to meet these challenges.


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Homeless
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end-poverty

  • Poor People in Rich Nations: The Causes For Rising Poverty In The Western World (europeancourage.wordpress.com)
    Poverty rates are on the rise in the Western world, as recession, rising fuel costs and austerity cuts to social welfare benefits, take their toll on the most vulnerable people. But rather than trying to alleviate the problem, most continue to perpetuate the cycle even further.
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    Rising fuel prices add to the pressures. The UK’s Office of National Statistics said petrol prices have risen by 52 percent since 2001, putting petrol out of reach for many people. Last year, 77 percent of the top fifth of British households bought fuel compared to 47 percent of the bottom fifth. The ONS report also said the poorest households spend three times as much of their income on petrol as the richest, meaning they are hit proportionally harder.
  • These 20 Cities Have The Worst Poverty Problems In Europe (businessinsider.com)
    One of the aspects that the publication covers is urban poverty and residents’ perception of such poverty. In order to find this, the researchers posed the following statement to residents of 75 major cities in Europe — “In this city poverty is a problem.”
  • Hungary urges EU members to present Roma plans (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
    A Hungarian official who oversees programs to aid the country’s Roma population is urging other European nations to fulfill earlier pledges to present strategies for integrating the minority group.
  • European parliament should be abolished, says Jack Straw (guardian.co.uk)
    The directly elected European parliament should be abolished after failing to achieve its purpose of bridging the divide between the European people and the European Union, the former foreign secretary Jack Strawhas said.He was speaking at an Institute for Public Policy Research seminar at which poll findings were released showing only 8% of the population believe their voice counts in the European Union, with 78% disagreeing.
    +”People understand the value of the EU, what it has produced, but they also understand that it should concentrate on those things of value and pull back from those things that can best be left to domestic parliaments and governments. So, to use a cliche, it has got to do less but it’s got to do better”.

    Straw’s argument was buttressed by IPPR poll findings, researched by YouGov-Cambridge, showing that significant numbers believe the EU should co-operate more closely on terrorism and international crime (67%), climate change (52%), poverty (51%) and immigration (45%).

    In contrast, a majority or a large minority think EU countries should loosen links on national budgets (57%), laws on trade unions and strikes (54%), agriculture (57%) and weights and measures (48%).

    Voters also reject institutional changes, such as the introduction of an elected EU president (23%in favour, 47% against), a European army (15%, 57%) or a single seat at the UN (11%, 59%).

  • Brits’ voices not heard by EU, but they want closer integration on international issues (leftfootforward.org)
    New polling (pdf) published today helps to explain the nature of Euroscepticism in the UK. It shows that while Brits do not feel that their voice counts in the European Union, there are some areas in which they believe that European countries should cooperate more closely and others where they should loosen links.Constitutional quick fixes and greater political integration are largely rejected.
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    George’s Marvellous Deficit Calculator

    • Peak public sector deficit including the bailout was 9.1% of GDP in 2009/10
    • In June ’10 The OBR predicted Alistair Darling would have borrowed 6.6% of GDP in 2012/13
    • In June ’10 The OBR predicted George Osborne would have borrowed 5.5% of GDP in 2012/13
  • Poorer Than Statistics Show (vanguardngr.com)
    We are poorer than most accepted statistical tools capture. How does one represent poverty of the mind, the greatest obstacle to the growth?
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    By Gordon’s measures, a person who lives in a home with a mud floor is severely deprived of shelter. A person who never attended school and cannot read is severely deprived of education. A person who has no newspaper, radio, television, or telephone is severely deprived of information. People who meet any two of these conditions — for example, they live in homes with mud floors and cannot read — are considered to be living in absolute (abject) poverty.
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    Statisticians are addicted to numbers. Actually, their addiction quickly escalates to an affliction because, as they drown themselves and drown society in cascading tsunamis of figures, they conclude, erroneously, that numbers represent everything. They conclude that numbers are de facto, actual representations – or, at least, reflections – of social phenomena.
  • A Guide To The Horrible Youth Unemployment Mess In Europe(businessinsider.com)
    french youth protesting

    a colossal 5.493 million youthwere unemployed in December, according to latest data from Eurostat. And the EU saw its overall youth unemployment rate at 22.1 percent.

    French youth protesting
  • Greece’s wartime resistance hero denounces EU-backed cuts (guardian.co.uk)
    The hero of Greece‘s anti-Nazi resistance movement, Manolis Glezos, has appealed to anti-capitalist protesters to “overturn a rotten system”. Leading the fight in a very different sort of war, the leftwing icon said his nation had become a “guinea pig” for austerity measures to which no country was immune.
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    United under the banner “We are all Greeks”, demonstrators from Dusseldorf to New York denounced the draconian belt-tightening measures drawn up by the EU and IMF, which have pushed the struggling eurozone country into deeper poverty and despair. “We are sorry Greeks. These are not our policies,” German protesters shouted in Berlin at one of the many demonstrations attended by trade unionists, celebrities and prominent thinkers in capitals across the EU.

    Manolis Glezos

    Manolis Glezos called on anti-capitalist protesters to ‘overturn a rotten system’. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
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    Mired in recession, with its economy set to contract for a fifth consecutive year, Greece is trapped in a vicious cycle with many fearing it is heading towards economic and social collapse. A €130bn (£108bn) aid package – the country’s second international bailout – is expected to be finalised at a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers on Monday after months of ferocious negotiations. But it comes at a price. In the months and years ahead, Athens will have to apply further salary and pension cuts, axe around 150,000 jobs in the public sector and reduce the minimum wage by 22%.
  • What is social inclusion? (clubtroppo.com.au)
    Judith Sloan wants the term banned, the editors of the Australian think it’s bureaucratic gibberish and even the new minister for social inclusion seems unsureabout what it means. So what is social inclusion?For the New Labour politicians who popularised the term social exclusion in the UK, the excluded are those whose behaviour makes them a burden on other citizens and the state. Social inclusion is about helping the excluded become contributing members of the community.
    +The political rhetoric of social exclusion and inclusion ensnares both politicians and bureaucrats in the pretence that the world works the way swing voters in focus groups think it works. It’s an approach that assumes debate is pointless because these voters won’t pay attention to anything that doesn’t directly affect their own families and neighbourhoods.

    According to pollster Deborah Mattinson, politicians and voters are trapped in the never-never land of ‘Peter Pan politics’. It’s a “politics where the electorate never grows up. Instead the voter is indulged like a spoilt child by politicians desperately seeking their favour.” Politics is something that’s done to voters who demand outcomes that deep down they know are not really achievable.

    Perhaps it’s time both politicians expected more from voters and extended the idea of social inclusion to the political as well as the economic sphere.

     

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters".
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