Church groups including Caritas Europa and the Salesians of Don Bosco have joined a call to EU institutions for “ambitious” measures to lift 110 million people out of the risk of poverty.

From the EU Alliance for Investing in Children call for action for a comprehensive, sustainable Europe 2030 strategy with a strong social dimension

(Source: EU Alliance for Investing in Children)

In 2018, well before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 110 million Europeans at risk of poverty, of whom 23 million were children.

The European Union as well as the entire world are on the verge of a new economic crisis, which is expected to be even more severe than in 2008.

According to the European Commission forecast, the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic is expected to lead the EU into a deep economic recession.

This recession will push more people into poverty, and will further affect those already at risk. The closure of thousands of social services across Europe has already impacted the living conditions of millions of children and adults in need of daily care and support, as well as those of their families and informal caregivers.

The COVID-19 crisis will directly contribute to growing health and socio-economic inequalities between and within EU Member States.

In 2010, the European Union adopted the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The Strategy came as a response to the financial crisis that emerged in 2008-2009 and left millions of people unemployed and at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

A target was set to lift 20 million out of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. Disappointingly the poverty reduction target was the only target that was not substantially met.

The Europe 2020 Strategy is coming to an end this year.

The European Parliament and the Council of the EU have called for a long-term EU Strategy in line with the commitments made on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The European Commission, however, has not presented until today any adequate successor to the Europe 2020 strategy, that would set the European Union’s vision and steer the EU’s priorities in the long term.

The European Green Deal, although crucial to fight climate change and ensure a better, cleaner and healthier future for all, is not integral enough to be seen as the overall post-2020 EU strategy.

With 1 in 4 Europeans already at risk of poverty and social exclusion and with the catastrophic consequences of the COVID19 pandemic, the EU needs an ambitious, comprehensive and overarching strategy that would encompass the short and long term challenges that it is currently facing.

The EU Alliance for Investing in Children, with the support of the Social Platform and SDG Watch Europe, agree with the European Parliament’s and Council’s position and call the European Commission to launch a proposal for a Europe 2030 strategy that will combine the promotion of:

  • Equality and wellbeing, poverty reduction and social inclusion,
  • Inclusive and sustainable economic recovery, stability and growth,
  • Environmental protection by implementing the European Green Deal
  • Digital transformation

The Strategy should be aligned with the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement (UNFCCC). The Strategy’s social dimension should be also aligned with the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will set an ambitious poverty and child poverty reduction target, and which will guide EU Member States’ policy making.

To read the full call, follow this link to the EU Alliance for Investing in Children website

More on Novena on the Church’s fight against poverty in Europe:

COVID-19 recovery: Social Justice Ireland calls on EU not to repeat “profound mistake” of post-GFC austerity, bank bailouts

Caritas laments 23 million children in poverty in EU, warns number “will increase considerably” due to COVID-19

Caritas Europa calls for guaranteed minimum income “to ensure dignity for all”

Francis, on COVID-19: “This is the opportunity for conversion, the time to move from misusing nature, the moment to see the poor”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.