The Brief: How the incoming Commission plans to tackle poverty in Europe

The Brief: How the incoming Commission plans to tackle poverty in Europe
By Jack ParrockGrace Murray
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As President-elect von der Leyen and her Commission prepare to take office on December 1, there are already plans being made to tackle poverty in Europe, promoting of quality jobs, and a European Union-wide minimum wage.


Poverty is a big problem in Europe that concerns millions of people. The entering European Commission plans to tackle the issue by addressing its root: quality jobs.

Alice Kelly comes from a town near Dublin with high unemployment and welfare dependent. In her area, the housing crisis has generated the so-called ‘hidden homeless’: a situation where three generations of a family are squeezed into one house.

"I don’t feel part of the Ireland that is depicted in glossy airline magazines - the brilliant economy, the glitzy fashion the great food producer,” Kelly said.

According to Eurostat 109 million people in the EU are at risk of poverty, the more exposed being women, children, people with migrant background, and single parents.

The incoming Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she wants to introduce an insurance scheme for unemployment and a minimum wage. But the appointed Commissioner for Jobs Nicholas Schmit wants to take the initiative further.

"Minimum wage is one of the issues but certainly we have to promote quality jobs also because the number of jobs is not so much important, it is the quality of the jobs that are determining,” Schmit said.

Organisations insist it is crucial that national governments provide support to low income workers

“At the moment that is not happening in many of our member states. The minimum income scheme is set at a level that simply does not allow most people to live a dignified life and to participate in society,” said Leo Williams, the director of European Anti-Poverty Network.

The EU wants to reduce poverty by 20 million people by 2020 but missed that target. The hope is that this second chance with the new Commission won’t be wasted.

And other news in brief…

Poland. Despite international criticism, Poland will continue to overhaul its justice system, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a speech before Parliament on Tuesday.

Marowiecki said that his government wanted to improve the state which also means improving the justice system.

Critics say the nationalist Law and Order Party (PiS) introduced changes to the court system that undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice ruled that questions over the impartiality of the new Polish judicial supervisory body should be answered by Poland's highest court.

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