“The real poverty of the 21st century is the one where the poverty of those who suffer it can never be eradicated”, said the former European commissioner for social affairs, Frans Timmermans, in a statement published in the European Parliament’s journal, “The European Social Forum”.
He added that it is the duty of politicians and policymakers to ensure that social policy is focused on alleviating the poverty that people feel most strongly about, rather than “the austerity that leads to it”.
Mr Timmerman’s comments were in stark contrast to those of former European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, who has been campaigning for a return in some areas of the continent to austerity.
Mr Barrose, a former German finance minister, described “an economic system which has failed the people of the poorest countries as the only path to prosperity”.
His comments were echoed by former French president, François Hollande, who said that in his view “austerity is not just the right thing to do, it is also the only thing that will work”.
In the European Union, he added, “we must do it, we must do the right things, and if necessary we must be forced to take some of the necessary measures”.
In a separate development, European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Thursday urged all member states to take the first step towards a return on social security by increasing their spending on social protection.
If we do it now, we will have the first chance to see a return.””
It’s clear to me that a return will take more than a few years and we should start now.”
If we do it now, we will have the first chance to see a return.
But we also have to build on the progress already made, which means we need to do it sooner rather than later”.