MEPs call for EU-wide minimum income to combat poverty 

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Minimum income schemes should be introduced in all EU Member States to combat poverty, says a European Parliament resolution adopted on Wednesday. The resolution comes three days after the annual UN Eradication of Poverty Day (17 October) and as European Year against Poverty (2010) draws to a close.

Poverty affects around 85 million people, or 17% of the EU's population. The risk of poverty is greater for children and young people up to 17 years of age (20%) than for the population as a whole. Older people (19%) also face a higher risk of poverty, says the resolution, which was drafted by Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL, PT).

Minimum incomes

Minimum income schemes - consisting of financial support plus easier access to services for people on low incomes - are the most effective way to guarantee an adequate standard of living and foster social integration, says Parliament.  Such schemes should be pitched at 60% of the median income of the country concerned. The Commission is asked to present an initiative in this area as a first step towards an EU action plan.

However, alternative resolutions tabled by the S&D, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups calling for an EU framework law on a minimum income were not supported by the majority of Members in the House.

The working poor

MEPs also highlight the increasing number of working poor.  They stress that a living wage must always be above the poverty threshold and that workers who remain below that threshold should receive top-ups that are unconditional.

Lastly, efforts must also be made on pay and minimum wage levels, says the resolution, since the poverty affecting people in employment implies inequitable working conditions.

Procedure: Own-initiative