The 2012 edition of the European Employment and Social Developments Review showed that after the five-year economic crisis and the return of the recession last year, unemployment rates are hitting new highs, household incomes are falling, and the risk of poverty and social exclusion is on the rise especially in the southern and eastern EU member states.

The review revealed that the average EU unemployment rate has risen to almost 11 per cent. Further findings have shown that a new pattern of divergence has been identified between the north and south of the eurozone – the unemployment rate gap between these areas was 3.5 points in 2000, zero points in 2007 and rose to 7.5 points in 2011. This trend calls for an urgent need to identify more effective mechanisms of macroeconomic stabilisation.

A number of European member states are facing the risk of entering into and escaping from poverty, with certain groups at a higher risk than others. The review claims that young adults, unemployed women and single mothers are among those facing higher risks of persistent poverty.

Real gross household disposable income has experienced a decline between 2009 and 2011 in two-thirds of the member states, with the largest drops recorded in Greece (17 per cent), Spain (eight per cent), Cyprus (seven per cent) and Estonia and Ireland (five per cent).

The Commission argues that several policies need to be catered to specific country situations and population groups to prevent rising poverty and long-term exclusion.

The European Commission will be issuing a Social Investment Package early this year to guide member states on implementing adequate and effective policies that bring about a progressive influence on both human capital and social cohesion.

For more information visit http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/index_en.htm . This information is submitted by Impetus Europe Consulting Group Ltd.

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