The EU Bishops and Church aid agency Caritas Europa have denounced that nearly one out of every five EU citizens is living in poverty or at risk of poverty.

Driving the news

Caritas and COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, released a statement for the 2019 World Day of the Poor which the Church celebrates this Sunday November 17.

“Unemployment, adverse economic and working conditions, especially among young people, affect millions of families, who are denied a fair and just remuneration that would allow them to live in dignity”, Caritas and COMECE denounced in their message.

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The two Church groups recalled words from Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of the Poor this year, and particularly his call to “initiate a true fraternal dialogue with the poor” and “encourage more and more people to cooperate effectively so that no one will feel deprived of closeness and solidarity”.

To that end, COMECE and Caritas call on EU institutions and Member States to commit to a series of concrete measures in order “to combat the structural causes of poverty, promoting integral human development and putting an end to poverty in the EU”:

  • Dedicate at least 30% of the European Social Fund+ to social inclusion and the fight against poverty
  • Develop a strategy for 2030 outlining a roadmap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 
  • Translate the European Pillar of Social Right into concrete policies and actions

Why it matters

COMECE and Caritas also ask the EU to “promote decent and stable forms of employment”, for which it is “necessary”, they warn, “to fundamentally rethink the European social model, adapting social protection to the new realities of the digital economy”.

“It is unacceptable that our societies do not adequately support children, who are the group most at risk of poverty in Europe”, COMECE and Caritas add, calling on politicians to adopt a strong and well-funded European Child Guarantee.

COMECE and Caritas concluded their message encouraging policy makers “to enhance the social and civil dialogue in Europe, and to sincerely listen to people experiencing poverty in order to shape a more fair, inclusive and person-centered society”.

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