Almost a quarter of Europeans are threatened by poverty: 123 million people could not cope with a financial setback, according to a study by the international aid agency Oxfam published on Wednesday. In Belgium, 20% of residents are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and over 15% are living below the poverty level.
The Oxfam study is called “A Europe for the Many, not the Few » and points to growing inequality preventing effective measures against poverty. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of Europeans unable to afford their heating bills or an unplanned cost rose from 7.5 million to 50 million.
One out of 5 people in Belgium is at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and over 15% are living below the poverty level. In Brussels 40% of 15- to 24-year-olds are already below the poverty level, a “particularly distressing” figure, states Oxfam.
The distribution of assets is extremely unequal in our country says the agency. The wealthiest 5% own as much as the 75% at the bottom of the pile.
At the other end of the scale, 342 billionaires live in Europe. Belgium is infamous as a haven for wealthy international companies and individuals who use fiscal loopholes to limit the tax they pay, Oxfam complains.
Oxfam intends to reprimand European finance ministers at their next meeting, scheduled for September 11th to 12th.