As Europe’s One Percent Flourishes, Millions Sink into Poverty

Written by on September 12, 2015 in Economy with 20 Comments

Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams

"This vicious cycle of wealth concentration, abuse of power and neglect of citizens has detrimental impacts on economic growth, social stability and democracy as well as on marginalization and poverty." (Photo: Oxfam)

“This vicious cycle of wealth concentration, abuse of power and neglect of citizens has detrimental impacts on economic growth, social stability and democracy as well as on marginalization and poverty.” (Photo: Oxfam)

‘To tackle inequality in Europe, we must reduce the influence the rich and powerful have in shaping government policies at the expense of the majority of European people.’

On a continent that is home to some of the world’s richest people, most profitable businesses, and most valuable assets—including 342 billionaires—more than 120 million people are at risk of poverty, exemplifying the “unacceptable” levels of inequality sweeping Europe in 2015.

That’s according to Oxfam, whose new report, A Europe for the Few, Not the Many (pdf), warns that the excessive influence of wealthy individuals, corporations, and interest groups on policy-making is exacerbating poverty and inequality across the continent.

Related Article: The Shocking Cause of Global Poverty (Hint: It Has Nothing To Do With Money)

“We live on a rich continent where poverty and inequality are on the rise and are the product of political choices, not fate,” said Natalia Alonso, deputy director of advocacy and campaigns for Oxfam in Europe. “To tackle inequality and poverty in Europe, we must reduce the influence the rich and powerful have in shaping government policies in their favor at the expense of the majority of European people.”

Until 2012, for example, just two percent of participants in European Commission expert groups on tax matters represented a public interest, such as trade unions, consumer groups, and civil society organizations. By 2014, this had improved just slightly—82 percent of participants still represented a private or commercial interest.

Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2013, the number of Europeans living without enough money to heat their homes or cope with unforeseen expenses, a state known as “severe material deprivation,” rose by 7.5 million to 50 million people. These are among the 123 million people—almost a quarter of the European Union’s population—at risk of living in poverty. Women are disproportionately represented among those at risk for poverty, and the number of children living in poverty within the EU grew by one million between 2009 and 2013.

Related Article: The Criminalization of Poverty

It is estimated that the richest one percent of Europeans hold more than a third of the region’s wealth.

“Poverty in the EU is not an issue of scarcity during the crisis, but a problem of how wealth is distributed,” said Isabel Ortiz, director of social protection at the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), in her introduction to the Oxfam report.


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  1.' Nick Taylor says:

    As does the rest of the world!!? You do realize that the earth provides everything we need for survival, not the government’s, right?

  2.' Tom Ficklin says:

    Mitchell Young

  3.' Elaine Osman says:

    Absolutely, entirely and totally unacceptable.

  4.' WendyJoy Smith says:

    I guess the point iw, to the 1%, we are not feeling what you are letting trickle down… your theory is all wrong and the other 99% are feeling a little peeved

  5.' Marlene Sundberg says:


  6.' Susan Lamb says:

    Socialism at its finest.

  7.' Mitchell Young says:

    I thought Democratic Socialism was a guarantee of Utopia.

  8.' Kelly Morris says:

    A couple million Syrian refugees will make it all better…

  9.' Grace Ramoso says:

    oh if you can take people offshores sure you are willing to find solution for your own people,this is also my countries problem…pity pity people who almost did not beolong to any family even for once.

  10.' Jayashri Dhanaraj says:

    Richness and poverty is common to all countries

  11.' Joyce Schneider says:

    Just like Us This Must and Will Change! We are the Makers of That Change!

  12.' Shekina Blue says:

    and just image what it’s going to be like when the refugees get settled

  13.' نيديا غوميس نيديا غوميس says:

    Fear not: they call it karma…

  14.' Laetitia De Nys says:

    elite is not interested in peace; war chaos poverty or enslaving the people (mid class) is more what they are striving for – please join meditation event to support massive shift towards peace:

  15.' Dominique Jeuge says:

    Same as here…. and probably everywhere else!

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