human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Youth poverty in Europe traps young people

between hope and despair

Caritas Europa will present on Wednesday, 28 March a new report on youth poverty in Europe based on research conducted in 16 EU Member States. The findings show that, contrary to previous generations, young people today are increasingly lacking access to social rights. The European Council of 22-23 March will discuss the European Semester 2018 and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Hence, Caritas Europa takes this occasion to remind the Council of the urgent need to put fairness and equality back on top of the EU political agenda.

According to Eurostat, one out of three young people in Europe are suffering from the consequences of poverty. Through its services across Europe, Caritas has a first-hand insight into the reality behind this statistic. The staff and volunteers who contributed to the research meet and work with poverty-stricken families and individuals on a daily basis. They witness that increasing numbers of people have been left behind in the last decade. Like this young mother, who uses the services of Caritas Austria and who shared her experience anonymously:

I got pregnant… a friend of mine helped me find a cheap apartment… there was no heating. In October, my daughter was born and we spent the whole winter in the cold, damp apartment. Then I no longer had enough money for the rent. I was evicted. I was afraid that my child would be taken away from me… but there was just no affordable housing to find.

Caritas’ research looks into how young people at risk of poverty have limited access to rights, such as housing, work and education. It also looks at other issues of concern for Europe’s youth, such as intergenerational transmission of poverty, stigmatisation, marketisation and the commodification of youth. In addition, in the research, Caritas analyses the effectiveness of policies currently in place at national level, as well as European initiatives, such as the European Youth Employment Strategy and the European Pillar of Social Rights. Finally, the research also includes a series of recommendations to the European Union and its Member States.

The European Commission said last year in a report that for the first time since World War II, there is a real risk that today’s young adults may end up less well-off than their parents. This study confirms this situation and should act as a wake-up call for those who have not being taking the European Commission’s warnings seriously.

Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa

Notes to editor: