EU member states must do more to give the more than 95 million Europeans who lived in or on the brink of poverty a decent life last year. They can do this by strengthening their social safety nets and directing more people to work, says European Commissioner for Social Affairs Nicholas Schmidt.
A bag of money should be a last resort, because a job is better, but many people who are living or on the edge of poverty now do not have access to available resources, according to the European commissioner. Because, among other things, faltering regulations around minimum income, 30 to 50 percent of needy Europeans leave money for which they are already eligible. This often concerns one-parent families. Another 20 percent are not eligible for benefits or subsidies.
In its recommendation to member states, Brussels calls for a decent income level by 2030, fair and clear criteria with user-friendly information on the subject and a decision on applications within 30 days. Member states can also assist the target group by improving access to essential services such as health care, assisting job seekers (more) with education and training and assisting employers with employment.
More than one in five Europeans is at risk of poverty and social exclusion. “Every country has a minimum income system, but it is not always convenient and available to those who need it,” Schmidt said, stressing that the recommendation is independent of recent agreements on raising the minimum wage (because that is for workers) as well as rising energy prices and inflation.
Funds are available through the Social Fund, among others. Of the nearly 100 billion of that in 2021-2027, at least a quarter must go to poverty reduction and social inclusion, according to the commission.
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