Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, has warned we need a more focused joint commitment to combating poverty and social exclusion across the EU if we are to bring about any real change.
Speaking at a conference on poverty today , Jean said: “Ten years ago the European Union made a commitment to “make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010”. A decade on and there has been no such decisive impact. 84 million, or 17 per cent of the EU population, are still at risk of poverty and political will is still sorely lacking.
“This year, the EU set a new target of aiming to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty or exclusion by 2020 . That’s just one in six people over 10 years. Hardly ambitious; but it does provide us with some momentum to build on.
“That momentum must be focused on implementing active inclusion policies by promoting adequate income, an active labour market and quality public services; three elements that are at risk of severe erosion through targeted austerity measures unless all Member States work together in the same direction.
“Our collective challenge is to change the reality of people’s lives by changing the actions of those who make the decisions that frame those lives. Ultimately, we must emerge from this crisis transformed, looking to a different future. Not a future based on individualism and materialism, but one based on mutual respect, where no-one should live in poverty.”
Notes to Editors
 In the framework of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, Eurodiaconia, Caritas Europa, the Church and Society Commission of CEC and COMECE held a Ecumenical conference on poverty: NEW WAYS OF SOLIDARITY: A joint commitment to combating poverty and social exclusion.
 The European Council agreed in June 2010 on a poverty and social exclusion target in the EU 2020 Strategy of lifting at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion by 2020. According to the Social Protection Committee analysis, with 2009 as a reference year, this amounts to about 120 million; the 20 million target therefore aims at lifting 1 in 6 people out of poverty or exclusion over 10 years.