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Council of Europe blasts Italy on pensions, poverty

Lacks 'overall and coordinated approach'

29 January, 20:03
Council of Europe blasts Italy on pensions, poverty (By Shelly Kittleson) (ANSA) - Rome, January 29 - Italy is failing to address growing levels of poverty and is not providing retirees with an adequate level of subsistence, a Council of Europe committee said in a report released on Wednesday. The report, drawn up by the European Committee of Social Rights, noted that Rome had not demonstrated "the existence of an overall and coordinated approach providing adequate measures to combat poverty and social exclusion". Italy's national statistics bureau Istat reported in late December that the number of people in crisis-hit Italy living in absolute poverty had doubled between 2005 and 2012 and tripled in the industrial north, up to 6.4% from 2.5%. More than 1.7 million families - or about 4.8 million individuals - live in a state of absolute poverty amid rising unemployment and a lingering recession, Istat said.

Overall, 3.2 million families, representing 9.5 million individuals, lived in relative poverty in 2012.

The relative poverty threshold was measured by Istat as an average monthly budget for a two-member household under 990.88 euros last year.

Italy has seen the rate of those at risk of poverty rise to almost 30% in 2012, according to the 'Europe 2020' report, the highest recorded in Europe after Greece.

As a signatory to the European Social Charter, Italy is duty-bound to show how it monitors and evaluates poverty reduction measures, but it has failed to do so, said the Council of Europe committee report.

It urged Italy to fulfill its obligations.

Italy's expenditure on unemployment and social exclusion, at 2.9% and 0.3% respectively, was significantly lower than the European Union average (6% and 3.6% respectively), the report noted. Moreover, "the level of minimum pension falls below 40% of the median equivalised income (Eurostat) and is therefore inadequate".

The report also warned that it has not been established "that medical assistance is provided for everybody in need".

Italy was criticised for not having "appropriate occupational safety and health policy" nor an "adequate system to organise occupational risk prevention".

The report pointed out that Rome had failed to guarantee equal treatment with regard to social security rights to nationals of all other EU countries, complaining of "discriminatory treatment of migrant Roma and Sinti with regard to citizen's participation".

The Council of Europe is a 47-member pan-European human and social rights body.