Almost 25% of the EU’s population, or 122.6 million people, were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2013, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday (4 November).
According to Eurostat, the proportion of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the 28 member states in 2013 (24.5%) has slightly decreased compared with 2012 (24.8%), but is higher than in 2008 (23.8%).
Eurostat identifies a person ‘at risk of poverty’ as someone who is living in a household with an equivalised disposable income below the risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).
In 2013, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in five member states, including Bulgaria (48.0%), Romania (40.4%), Greece (35.7%), Latvia (35.1%) and Hungary (33.5%).
The lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were at the same time recorded in the Czech Republic (14.6%), the Netherlands (15.9%), Finland (16.0%) and Sweden (16.4%).
The only countries which saw decreases in the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion being were Poland (from 30.5% in 2008 to 25.8% in 2013), Romania (from 44.2% to 40.4%), Austria (from 20.6% to 18.8%), Finland (from 17.4% to 16.0%), Slovakia (from 20.6% to 19.8%), the Czech Republic (from 15.3% to 14.6%) and France (from 18.5% to 18.1%). The share remained stable in Belgium.
In related statistics, 9.6% of the EU population were considered as ‘severely materially deprived’, meaning they were struggling to pay their rent or utility bills and could not afford taking one week holiday from home.
The reduction of the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.
Europe 2020 is the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade. Concretely, the EU has set five objectives - on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy - to be reached by 2020. Each member state has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas. Concrete actions at EU and national levels underpin the strategy.