Sat | Oct 24, 2020

Child poverty likely to increase in EU amid coronavirus pandemic

Published:Tuesday | September 29, 2020 | 11:32 AM
In this Thursday, May 28, 2020 file photo, children swing in a playground at Leopold park during the partial lifting of coronavirus lockdown regulations in Brussels. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Child poverty has reached an “unacceptable” level across the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc, a situation likely to worsen during the coronavirus pandemic, the EU’s external auditor said Tuesday.

According to EU data, almost 23 million people under 18 — approximately one in four children — are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the 27-nation bloc.

In a report published Tuesday, the European Court of Auditors said member states should urgently coordinate efforts to fight child poverty as the pandemic is expected to make the euro-area unemployment rate rise from 7.5 % in 2019 to about 9.5 % this year, with devastating consequences on people’s livelihoods.

“Child poverty is a serious issue in the EU,” said Tony Murphy, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report, during a video conference Tuesday.

“Without a sustained and targeted action, the current unacceptable level is unlikely to decrease. It is becoming more critical because of the expected impact of the pandemic.”

EU auditors were alarmed well before the pandemic struck. Their audit was completed prior to the outbreak and revealed a global lack of commitment to tackle the issue.

They noted that EU leaders have already failed to deliver on their promise to bring at least 20 million people out of poverty by the end of 2020, compared with 2008.

According to Eurostat indicators, only 7.15 million people had been lifted out of poverty by 2018.

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