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POVERTY IS A SCANDAL: Launch of Caritas Europa's zero poverty campaign


28 Jan 2010


Social Europe & Jobs

Poverty is a scandal. What else can it be when just over 40 years after man first walked on the moon, there are still humans unable to provide for their most basic needs, like food, shelter, warmth.

It is with this central message - poverty is unacceptable in the 21st century - that Caritas Europa is launching today its Zero Poverty campaign for the European Year 2010 for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Sharing a platform with Elisabeth Schroedter MEP, Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, and with presentations by Erny Gillen (President of Caritas Europa) and Paolo Pezzana/Patrizia Cappelletti (representing Caritas Italy), Caritas Europa is offering the vision of Zero Poverty - a vision of a different world, in which no-one is forced to live on the streets or dies prematurely because cannot afford healthcare.  

The Poverty Paper: Prevention is better than cure

In its Poverty Paper, published especially for the European Year 2010, Caritas defines poverty as a lack of well-being rather than a lack of financial resources - though naturally, a lack of basic means is an extremely common cause of emotional and psychological distress.

It is by supporting and strengthening the three traditional sources of social welfare: 1) the labour market 2) the family 3) the welfare state, that the poor and socially excluded can become truly self-sufficient and restore the dignity that has been robbed from them by the stigma of poverty.

Caritas believes that in order to achieve the vision of Zero Poverty, society has to tackle poverty’s root causes rather than merely respond to its consequences. Today, social policies are still focused on assisting poor people. However, if the fight against poverty and social exclusion is to be sustained, more emphasis must be placed on what policies can do to prevent the spiral of poverty from taking place, particularly in the early stages of an individual's life.

The Petition: Taking a united stand against poverty

Over the course of 2010, Caritas Europa and its Europe-wide network will be raising awareness of poverty, and lobbying national governments and supranational institutions for change. A central aspect of their campaigning activity will be the Petition Against Poverty, which calls on European governments to take four achievable steps to end poverty.

These are: End child poverty by guaranteeing allowances for every child in Europe, regardless of the status of their parents; Secure a minimum standard of social security for all; Guarantee universal healthcare and strengthen the welfare state; Take active steps to ensure decent jobs with decent wages.

The target for the petition is to reach one million signatures of citizens who are nationals of a significant number of member states. This would be a requirement for inviting the Commission to submit appropriate legislative proposals on the basis of the European citizen’s initiative, one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Act Now!

At the beginning of 2010 Caritas is looking forward to a year in which a number of the socio-political orthodoxies of past decades are challenged and many people inspired to look at poverty through new eyes. However, without the support of thousands of volunteers and sympathisers, nothing will be possible.

It is with this in mind that everybody who cares about combating poverty is invited to make a stand in 2010: a stand against poverty; a stand for social justice; a stand that will get people talking, thinking and acting.

Poverty is everybody’s concern. The Zero Poverty campaign ( proposes concrete actions against poverty that can be accomplished in our everyday life. Act now for a better future!

For more information, please contact:

Annalisa Mazzella

Advocacy and Communication Officer

Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 94



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