Survey shows increase in the number of new poor in seven countries and challenges the official European Union discourse
Far from being over Europe’s economic crisis is getting worse with disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation being noted among children and youth, says a report compiled by the Catholic charity Caritas.
The survey, conducted over the course of the past year, not only challenges the official discourse – that Europe is on the mend – but documents a dramatic poor in the seven EU countries worst hit by the policies of austerity.
“We in Brussels keep hearing that the economic crisis is over,” Thorfinnur Omarsson, a spokesman for Caritas Europa said in Athens where the network of Catholic relief organisations released the report. “These findings not only doubt that the crisis is over but show it is the poor who are paying for a crisis they did not cause.”
The 114-page inquiry into the human cost of the crisis focuses on Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain. In all of these countries, it claims, there is deepening inequality with growing numbers suffering from poverty and social exclusion. In Ireland – depicted as the poster child for austerity – income inequality soared between 2009 and 2010 with the top 20% earning five times more than the bottom 20%
In Cyprus – the last country to be rescued by the EU and IMF when its banking system came close to collapse last March – poverty levels among older people have more than doubled in the past year. At 29.3% the Mediterranean island now has the worst rate of poverty among citizens aged over 65 in the 28-nation bloc.
“More and more Cypriots are coming to get food and support,” says Michael Hadjiroussos, a Caritas volunteer. “I’ve seen people arguing over spending €2 on a coffee. Not that long ago we were prosperous. A situation has emerged that not even those who predicted the crisis would have foreseen.”…