A new survey measuring public perceptions of financial difficulties, the affordability of health care and future employment and pension prospects has revealed that 30% of Europeans believe that around roughly one-third of the their country's population is edging towards poverty.
Eastern and South-Eastern member states were the most pessimistic. Greece stood out, with 85% of Greek respondents thinking that poverty had increased in their country in recent years.
These findings come as EU leaders agreed earlier this month to reduce the number of Europeans at risk of poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 million over the next ten years as part of the 'Europe 2020' strategy.
Indeed poverty is not only a matter of perception. One in six EU citizens express having experienced great difficulty in paying household bills on at least one occasion during the last year, whilst 15% described this as a constant struggle.
The costs of health and social care were cited as becoming "much more difficult" to afford by 11% of participants.
Strikingly, 91% of Austrians believed it "very unlikely" that they would be able to afford their accommodation over the next 12 months, with feelings concerning job prospects gauged as little better.
Almost half of all participants stated that they felt unlikely to be able to find a replacement job within six months if they were to be laid off.
Future pensions represented a worry for 73% of Europeans who expected to either postpone retirement or receive lower benefits in the wake of the recession.
Indeed, in 17 member states, a majority of respondents are very or fairly worried that their income in old age would be adequate to enable them to live "in dignity".
But the EU is also promoting new initiatives to help countries fight against poverty. A project in the Netherlands bringing together local partnerships in sixty different communities to develop strategies for tackling social exclusion, a Belgian project helping socially-excluded people gain employment and a service in Luxembourg helping people access affordable housing have all benefited from the European Social Fund this year.
The survey was carried out in the context of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. It is the fourth in a series organised by the Commission in light of measures agreed at European level to try and minimise the effects of the economic crisis on citizens.