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Thousands-strong solidarity ring encircles European Parliament

[Brussels, 19 November 2010] With poverty and inequality levels rising throughout Europe, the 2010 Coalition of Social NGOs has called for a solidarity gathering today to urge the European institutions and Member States’ governments to give a more sustainable and equitable response to the crisis, instead of making the most vulnerable carry the cost.

85 million women and men – around 17% of the EU population – lived below the poverty threshold in 2008. About 20 million of them are children, which means one child out of five. 8% of the European population is at risk of poverty, despite having a job. 22% of women over 65 live in poverty, as do a third of single-parent families. In addition, there has been a vast accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few with the richest 2% of the world population owning 50% of world’s wealth while the poorest half of the world population have only 1% of the world’s wealth.

“The austerity measures are a purely economic answer to a social crisis. They’re pushing millions of people, previously affected by the crisis itself, deeper into poverty," said Conny Reuter, President of Social Platform. "To address this situation the EU and member states need to establish an adequate minimum income level, focus on creating quality jobs, and implement the Charter of Fundamental Rights."

"We will not get out of the crisis if we do not tackle the redistribution of wealth, reverse the growing levels of inequalities and prioritise policies to fight poverty and social exclusion. There are alternatives which deconstruct the idea that cutting public expenditure is the only solution. What we lack is the political will to pursue such alternatives” said Fintan Farrell, on behalf of the 2010 Coalition of Social NGOs.
Today, the 2010 Coalition of Social NGOs and the women, men and children, taking part in or supporting this event, have called on decision-makers to solidarity at the heart of their response to the crisis. The final declaration from the 2010 European Year must contain concrete commitments to fight poverty, exclusion and inequalities building on the 8 action points outlined by the Coalition of NGOs.
“We want this European Year to have a strong legacy to match the urgency of the situation. We want to see the renewal of a common vision for the type of society we want to create and a commitment to building a Europe where women and men of all ages can live free of poverty and social exclusion.”, concluded Myria Vassiliadou, Secretary General from of the European Women’s Lobby.

By initiating the Human Ring around the European Parliament, the 2010 Coalition of Social NGOs calls for action on 8 key points:

  • accessible services for all
  • an end to homelessness
  • participation in policy making
  • fundamental rights at the heart of the European policies
  • equality between men and women and an end to all discrimination
  • redistribution of wealth to create more equal societies
  • adequate income and high levels of social protection
  • decent work to create a sustainable way out of poverty

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