human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Special issue


JULY 2019

A word from our new Secretary General

It is a pleasure for me to write these lines of introduction to this newsletter, dedicated to the topic of over-indebtedness. At the end of May, I took over from Jorge Nuño Mayer as Secretary General of Caritas Europa. Although I know that there are many challenges ahead, I take on this mission with great joy, and will do all I can through work at the European level to promote the rights and dignity of the persons in the most vulnerable and marginalised situations.

In Europe today, an increasing number of households face difficulties in paying their debts on time. Over-indebtedness is a complex social and economic reality that affects persons – who are often already in situations of distress or poverty – seriously and deeply. This has a severe impact on their well-being, self-esteem and is a vicious, often life-long, cycle.

In this issue you will learn more about this topic: an overview of the problem of over-indebtedness in the Czech Republic is provided by our Caritas colleagues and a testimony is included from a person who now faces huge debts from using public transport without a ticket. In addition, the Director-General of the DG EMPL of the European Commission is sharing some thoughts on how over-indebtedness can be prevented, arguing that improving the incomes of poorer households is the best means for tackling the problem. You will also discover some of the inhumane consequences of the debt relief system in Lithuania – one of the poorest countries in the EU – from the perspective of the European Anti-Poverty Network. Furthermore, you will learn from Finance Watch about the ongoing evaluation of the EU Consumer Credit Directive, which could hopefully lead to avoiding exploitative and irresponsible lending practices.

Last but not least, I am very happy that my predecessor is also sharing with us some of his experiences from his nine years as Secretary General of Caritas Europe, thus putting the serious issue of poverty in Europe in perspective. We are profoundly grateful to Jorge for all he has done for Caritas Europa, and for promoting social justice and the common good throughout these years.

Maria Nyman

Secretary General


The opinions expressed in the articles here are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of Caritas Europa.

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