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 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.