Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Reports and communications > La Coruña 2015

21st Euromeeting
Supporting the Europe 2020 objective – Social poverty reduction and job creation

The topic chosen for this Euromeeting is current and it will not be difficult to explain the most assorted thoughts regarding it. However, it will be more complicated to provide solutions that, without any doubt, must be urgent and efficient.

Poverty and unemployment, as well as hunger and misery, are totally linked phenomena. Even if they are very serious and universal problems, our thoughts are going to be more focused on the reality of Europe and Portugal. We probably find its origin in political, economic and religious matters which took over societies at a global level. That is globalization!

Poverty and unemployment: one thing generates the other and they are both very worrying; too worrying, mainly when these authentic spreads appear after two or three decades of accentuated development, in which poverty eradication seemed to be a matter of fact and unemployment did not register significant levels. A better life expectancy increased the 60s, 70s and 80s generations.

Families were formed and were planning their life according to their job and remunerations that, frequently, used to improve almost every year. But from 2005/2006, as if a tsunami happened, everything started to collapse.

The economy lost the so far shown impetus relocating factories and companies in other countries and continents. Unemployment started a so remarkable rise which made a great part of the active population loose the standard of life they were used to and feel that poverty could set up, getting quickly closer to misery in many cases.

And this is our current situation, despite some politicians’ propaganda (mainly leaders) who assert that things are getting better.
In 2014, in Portugal, the National Institute of Statistics came to the conclusion that the number of people at risk of poverty was still increasing and it affected all age groups, although 40% of unemployed were the most likely to fall into it.

We could not figure out what kind of poverty the study was referring to. Probably to monetary/financial poverty that is, perhaps, the most visible and from which the rest of poverties, in most cases, come from including isolation, loneliness and privation, lack of health care, several family generations’ coexistence in the same house, homeless people substantial increase, etc.

According to some studies carried out by the World Health Organisation and from the FMI itself, the existing relationship between unemployment and suicide is equally serious and tight. In this sense, they came to the conclusion that one out of five suicides is linked to unemployment.

It is natural that, before reaching this point (suicide), more vulnerable people, including men and women of all ages, go through isolation and loneliness processes, anxiety recalling recent times, suffering from broken home, fear, privation of goods and basic services, shortage of health care, depressions and other kind of problems and diseases. 

Since unemployment is the main cause that leads to a poverty situation, it is urgent to fight this blight efficiently and find solutions which imply engagements from all countries and institutions.

Emigration has been one way to diminish the consequences of this problem. However, we cannot allow what happened in our generation and that is so well-known by us. Emigration cannot be the solution to the problem. That would mean going back more than 50 years in our history and contribute to increasing the number of broken homes.
Retired people are not an exception and are also concerned about all the issues we mentioned so far. 

In addition to see how their incomes decrease frequently because of the excessive tax burdens, very often they have to host relatives (children, grandchildren, for instance) in order to help them and they suffer from more or less close family breaking and problems that many of their friends suffer from.

When these situations happen, and they do more and more frequently, everything goes towards or ends up as we explained in the previous lines. Poverty among the elderly is also the result of the raise of expenses related to health (medical care and medicaments, various handicaps, lack of basic needs’ satisfaction while being younger, etc.). Increase of crime is added to this (also because of the poverty situation) and the lack of credibility towards the institutions; they end up becoming emotional destabilization factors for many retired which produces health problems or deterioration of those already existing.

People live constantly on tenterhooks; they either manage to find the way to resolve their problems, or to foresee their future because the less young, who thought they did it for themselves, are now obligated to help their most affected by these phenomena relatives and they find themselves immediately in a weakness situation.

But also children are excessively exposed to these problems. We only have to think that many times they only eat what they get from school canteens or from the so-called charity institutions; moreover, both the child prostitution and abandonment of children keep increasing!
But, how could we overcome or improve this situation?

Perhaps it is not ridiculous to highlight the fact, well-known by all of us and recently released, that rich people get richer and richer and poor people get poorer and poorer, as well as that the number of poor people is increasing in an exponential way. Is it perhaps the consequence of a wrong richness distribution? Probably it is, but there are also other factors that affect it including corruption, which blows at all levels and seems that nobody can (or wants to) control; the lack of a justice worthy of the name; responsibility for all (unemployed and poor people included) who are not able to change the government system which leaded to our current situation (and here we can also see the lack of personality of a great amount of voters…).

For all what is here explained, there will not be any doubt regarding the necessity and emergency of reducing and resolving unemployment and poverty related issues taking into account their most multiple variables. To do so, it is necessary to: put in place a serious justice and make it work, fight deeply against corruption, illicit enrichment, people and goods’ traffic, power abuse; we must definitely fight for a fairer richness distribution; foster strict practices in public management, put an end to fear and set credible measures in order to fight against fraud, loneliness and exclusion. In practice, conditions in order to people feel happy with their life, regardless their age, gender and state must be created. If these premises are fulfilled, in 2020 we will probably be in a much better situation than the one we are experiencing now.

Nowadays, it is very difficult to find one person who has not any relative or friend that suffer from this kind of situations; therefore not a lot of research has been needed for preparing this work, because if one is attentive to the current reality, s/he knows perfectly these problems.

Maria Eugénia Gonçalves