The Social Affairs Attaché for the Cypriot permanent representation to the European Union, Niki Odysseos, has said that child poverty is “high” on the upcoming EU council presidency’s agenda. Cyprus becomes President of the European Union for six months from July 2012. “We must strengthen social cohesion by enhancing children’s wellbeing. We need a multidimensional approach, including childcare services and education,” she said.
The comments were made at a European conference – “Tackling Child Poverty – Good Practice Shaping Policy” – organised by Caritas Europa on 19 June 2012.
The European Commission has already announced that it plans to issue a Recommendation on Child Poverty by the end of 2012.
Speaking at the conference, the Green MP Jean Lambert said that most people living below the poverty line in Europe are children. She called on the EU and member states to push for child rights to be a priority. She said that “the voice of children is not being heard”, and warned that “hope is being brought into question” for the next generation in the context of the economic crisis which is gripping much of Europe.
Rosemary Keenan, of the Catholic Children’s Society Westminster, stressed that children are at the greatest risk of “poverty or social exclusion”. She said that the EU’s headline target of lifting 20 million people out of poverty by 2020 is “low” and highlighted predictions that suggest Europe “will fall short on this target by 25 per cent”. “Things are not looking good for children in poverty in the EU,” she added.
Social affairs and equal opportunities policy officer for the European commission’s DG Employment, Elodie Fazi, said giving children access to early education and care is essential to “break the cycle of inequality as early as possible”. Fazi highlighted the importance of social transfers or government support, saying that “member states that spend the most have the lowest child poverty rate”.
Poverty in numbers
• In 2012, 116 million people are at risk of poverty in the EU
• 20.5 per cent of children in the EU are at risk of poverty
• 40.2 per cent of lone parent families in the EU are at risk of poverty
• Government support through social transfers reduces child poverty by 40 per cent in the EU