The EU has officially launched its Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
The campaign aims to draw attention to the fight against poverty throughout the next 12 months, with the slogan “Stop Poverty Now!”
An important aim within the context of the current economic downturn is the drive towards greater social inclusion throughout Europe.
“It is too often the vulnerable in society who end up being hardest hit by the impacts of a recession,” said EU Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso.
Barroso said that social inclusion would be part of the EU growth and jobs strategy for the next decade.
“The European Year 2010 should act as a catalyst to raise awareness and build momentum for a more inclusive society which is part and parcel of the EU’s future 2020 strategy that I have proposed,” he added.
Recent data from the EU statistical office (Eurostat) showed that in 2008, 17% of the population in the EU were at risk of poverty.
Two big themes for this year are therefore to raise greater awareness of the causes and consequences of poverty in Europe, and to promote social integration and inclusion.
The WHO has said that social inclusion is essential for health equity, and recommends the establishment of adequate social protection for all.
“It is important for population health in general, and health of lower socioeconomic groups in particular, that social protection systems are designed such that they are universal in scope,” according to a WHO report on health inequalities.
“Universal approaches are important for the dignity and self-respect of those who need social protection the most,” the WHO adds.
This message is reaffirmed by the Equity Channel in an article in the latest issue of ‘Exchange’, the newsletter of the European Commission’s employment directorate.
This special edition of the newsletter has a focus on combating poverty and social exclusion, and can be downloaded here.
The Eurostat data are available on this website.
The WHO report on health inequalities can be found on this site.