European Union faces increase in poverty due to fragile economic situation, even though unemployment is gradually reducing.

BRUSSELS, 23 January 2014 (FoNet) – European Commissioner for Employment Laszlo Andor said that the European Union faces increase in poverty due to fragile economic situation, writes internet portal EUobserver.

Presenting annual report on developments in fields of employment and social policy in 2013, he said “can see a significant increase in poverty… even though unemployment is gradually reducing”.

According to the European Commission’s research, a gradual fall in unemployment while the European economy recovers is unlikely to be enough to reverse an increasing trend in poverty levels.

Low wages widen gap

Increasing number of people working part-time and low wages will also widen gap between the rich and the poor in Europe.

“We must pay attention not only to creation of new jobs, but also to the quality of jobs so as to achieve sustainable recovery that will reduce not only unemployment but also poverty”, said Andor.

Unemployment rate in the EU amounts to 11 percent, compared with 12 percent in the euro zone.

Eurostat estimates that more than 19 million people are unemployed in the euro zone. Youth unemployment amounts to 23 percent.

The data reveal large differences between certain Member States.

Large differences

Greece and Spain have the highest unemployment rates at 27.3 percent and 26.7 percent respectively – more than five times higher than Austria and Germany.

Only one in three Europeans is able to get out of poverty within a year. Finding a job does not mean getting out of poverty for many people due to low wages, emphasises the EC.

Twenty-one Member States have introduced a minimum wage, ranging from around €160 in Bulgaria to €1,874 a month in Luxembourg, but 11 countries have minimum wages of less than €500 a month.

“In order for a man to exit poverty, it is necessary to find a job. But that is not always enough: our analyses show that getting a job is a way out of poverty in only half of the cases,” said Andor.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say that having a job necessarily means a decent standard of living.”

The Commission called on Member States to ensure that social assistance is available to all.

The report estimates that 29 percent of the unemployed in the EU does not receive social assistance.