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Poor worst affected by Europe’s austerity measures

Many European countries plunged into a financial crisis in early 2008.

Source : Presstv / 28 Mar 2014

A leading charity says the poor are the hardest hit by the economic crisis in Europe and the consequent austerity measures.

In a report published on Thursday, Caritas Europa said austerity measures taken by governments in Europe have led to an increase in child poverty and put people's health at risk.

The report studied the impact of austerity measures in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain -- seven European Union countries worst hit by the austerity policies.

The result of the study into the human cost of the crisis “depicts an unfair Europe, where social risks are increasing, social systems are being downsized and individuals and families are under stress," Caritas Europa said in a statement.

"Cuts to public services disproportionately affect lower-income groups, and problems accessing healthcare are impacting negatively on people's health," the report added.

The study, conducted over the course of the past year, also challenged the official EU discourse that Europe is on the mend.

"We in Brussels keep hearing that the economic crisis is over," said Thorfinnur Omarsson, a spokesman for Caritas Europa.

"These findings not only doubt that the crisis is over but show it is the poor who are paying for a crisis they did not cause," Omarsson noted.

Caritas Europa called for an urgent shift from financial to social goals, as it accused governments of failing to address the moral responsibility of banks for the crisis.

"The financial system must not be insulated from risk, with the consequent incentive to reckless behaviour," said the report, adding, "The same is likely to happen again unless a different approach is taken."

Many European countries plunged into a financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which in return have caused hardships for and protests by citizens.



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