2010 will be the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion and the work and preparations across Europe are in full swing. NGOs, local authorities and everyone working against exclusion are invited to participate in the campaign.
The initiative will have a budget of at least €26 million, including €17 million of EU funding.
Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimír Špidla said: "Europe is one of the richest regions in the world and yet 78 million people live at risk of poverty. This is completely unacceptable. We need to do more and to change our approach. The EU, national governments and citizens together can and must take action to eradicate poverty. Eight years after the first European strategy for social inclusion, the time has come to reaffirm the EU's commitment to this important goal. Around the EU, throughout 2010, events will show the different faces of poverty and exclusion in Europe."
The European Year 2010 aims to:
• Recognise the rights and capacity of excluded people to play an active part in society;
• Underline the responsibility of everyone in society to tackle poverty;
• Promote social cohesion and disseminate successful practices on inclusion;
• Reinforce the commitment of all major political players to take more effective actions.
78 million people in the EU - or 16% of the population, and 19% of the children - are currently at risk of poverty. According to the EU-agreed definition, people are considered at risk of poverty when they live on an income below 60% of the median household income of their own country. In 2004 (latest figure available), some 23.5 million citizens had to get by on less than €10 a day.
Eurobarometer surveys show that Europeans see poverty as a widespread problem. Across the EU, people feel that around 1 in 3 people (29%) in their area live in poverty and that 1 in 10 suffers extreme poverty.
Since the EU launched its open method of coordinating national policies to tackle poverty and social exclusion in 2000, all 27 Member States have now developed multi-annual national action plans. Before 2000, only three Member States had such strategies in place.
The EU's involvement encourages high standards based on commonly agreed objectives, while each country can implement policies adapted to the national context. And the European Social Fund (ESF) now represents around 10% of the EU budget and invests around €10 billion in people's skills every year across all Member States.
(Europa Rapid press release)