About 95 million EU citizens live in poverty or on the brink of poverty – 20% of the EU population. This situation is made worse by the skyrocketing prices of energy and food. The European Commission is calling on member states to modernize their social systems so that by 2023 at least 15 million people will be lifted out of the danger zone of poverty.
In 2017, EU countries agreed to strengthen the social rights of citizens, including the fight against poverty. However, today’s public presentation by the European Commission shows that only one person in the Netherlands with social assistance benefits (including supplemental schemes and allowances) reaches the income threshold to prevent poverty (60 percent of the country’s average income).
In Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy and Ireland, aid oscillates 10 to 20 percent less than that. In Romania and Bulgaria, social assistance is more than 80 percent below the poverty line.
The European Commission recommends that member states increase their aid when necessary to achieve the target of 60% of the country’s average income. Public finances should not be jeopardized.
The Commission notes that the European Union has approximately 100 billion euros available for the social plans of member states. The European Recovery Fund (750 billion euros) can also be used in part for social reforms, such as better functioning and faster social security systems. Currently, between 30 and 50 percent of people entitled to income support do not benefit from it.
The European Commission also states that the aid should motivate people to look for work. and calls on Member States not to completely abolish social assistance and other allowances (for care, childcare, public transportation) once someone has found a job; Losing this extra help can discourage people from accepting a job as it may put them at a disadvantage. The Commission expressly indicates continued financial support to pay the energy bill.
Furthermore, the Committee believes that Member States should provide assistance not to one person in the household (mostly the man), but to all adults in that household. This strengthens the position of women and youth.
Social security is the competence of the EU Member States themselves. Only the European Commission can make recommendations.
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