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Portuguese worker Luis Silva at an anti-austerity protest last month. The tape over his mouth reads: "I want a voice".
Portuguese worker Luis Silva at an anti-austerity protest last month. The tape over his mouth reads: "I want a voice".
Image: Francisco Seco/AP/Press Association Images

Europe-wide report says austerity is not working

The report – the first in-depth examination of the impact of current austerity policies within Europe – has called for a ‘fair solution’.
Feb 14th 2013, 12:22 PM 4,703 49

AUSTERITY MEASURES IN Europe’s five worst hit countries are not working, a new report has said.

Caritas Europa has published what it has described as “the first report to provide an in-depth examination of the impact of current policies”.

The report placed a particular focus on Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain – the countries informally referred to as the PIIGS of Europe.

Prepared by Social Justice Ireland, the report monitored the impact that austerity was having on society’s social systems and the social risks that this presented.

It concluded that the current prioritisation of austerity over all else was not working and that an alternative solution needed to be found.

Main findings

The report found that unemployment reached a high of 25.7 million, or 10.6 per cent of the labour force, in September 2012. Of these, 10.7 million were long-term unemployed.

Youth unemployment was found to be a major issue, with huge variations in the figures between countries. While the EU average is 22.5 per cent, it is now over 50 per cent in Greece and Spain.

The rate of poverty among workers who were less educated was also found be increasing.

Commenting on Ireland specifically, the report said:

It is notable that along with Cyprus, Ireland is the only European country where within the last year the greatest impact of financial distress in households has been seen in the lower income quartiles rather than the upper quartile.

Children were found to be the most susceptible to poverty and social exclusion, facing the greatest risk in 21 out of 25 member states.

Main recommendations

In seeking an alternative approach to austerity, the report called for a “fair solution to the debt crisis”, recommending a number of changes at local, national and European Union levels.

The report suggested that economic and social policies should be integrated at EU level. It also called for stronger leadership in order to safeguard those who are most at risk.

The report also said that social monitoring should be in place in all countries in EU/IMF programmes and that EU funds be used to help address poverty.

The director of Social Justice Ireland, Séan Healy, said that the findings had shown that the crisis had “disproportionately impacted on people who are poor and vulnerable” while failing to decrease unemployment levels.

Nessa Childers, MEP, said that the study would prove to be “invaluable for politicians,” adding:

We need to be able to challenge the proponents of cuts, to argue for tax justice, and for better and more caring policies.

Read the report: The impact of the European Crisis >

Read: Kenny: EU budget ‘a good deal for Ireland and a good deal for Europe’ >

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Paul Hyland

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