On 13 October 2020, Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Sandra Pereira of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“17 October marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Data shows that current levels of production would be more than sufficient to end world poverty if we had a different distribution model. However, even in supposedly developed societies, poverty and social exclusion are persistent problems, seemingly without a solution.
In the EU, if we offset the fluctuations associated with economic cycles, approximately one quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, reflecting a reality characterised by disinvestment in public services, the deregulation and increasing instability of the labour market, structural unemployment, wage devaluation, and the lack of public (national or EU) policies promoting social and territorial cohesion. Unfortunately, the crisis expedited by COVID-19 will only exacerbate this state of affairs.
Therefore, in the spirit of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I should like to ask:
1. Given how far we are from reaching the Europa 2020 objectives, how is the Commission revising its approach (through programmes or strategies) in order to implement policies which will actually achieve poverty reduction targets?
2. Are there plans for active anti-poverty policies, such as the introduction of a guaranteed minimum wage in the Member States to lift people out of poverty and promote social inclusion, or the possibility for public investments in health, education, training, housing and transport services which ensure universal responses in these areas?”
On 1 February 2021, Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Significant progress has been made in reducing poverty since the 2012 peak, when there were 16.3 million more people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU-27 compared to the 2019 level. However, still too many people live in poverty and still more action is needed on national and European level to reduce these numbers.
The COVID-19 outbreak risks increasing poverty. Simulations show that the rise in the risk of poverty may have been largely cushioned by the support measures adopted at both Member States and EU level. These include urgent measures, such as the new SURE instrument (S upport to mitigate U nemployment R isks in an E mergency) and the rapid mobilisation of the existing EU funds.
The 2021 Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy highlights that fairness remains a key principle to guide the recovery. The Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide large-scale financial support to reforms and investments undertaken by the Member States, in addition to the resources of the cohesion policy funds including the European Social Fund Plus.
The European Pillar of Social Rights remains our compass to ensure upward social convergence in the EU. Early 2021, the Commission will put forward an Action Plan to implement the Pillar. In this context, an EU Directive on adequate minimum wages in the EU was proposed on 28 October 2020, aiming at also reducing in-work poverty. In addition, various other principles, including access to services such as health, education, training and housing will be followed-up by measures to promote social inclusion and mitigate the economic and social impact of the crisis. Moreover, the upcoming proposal on the Child Guarantee will aim at tackling child poverty and ensuring equal opportunities among children.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/homeless-man-man-diversity-sandwich-5549419/