Zero Poverty

Today saw the launch of Zero Poverty, a Europe-wide campaign seeking to raise awareness of poverty across Europe and the rest of the world. The campaign has been launched by Caritas Europe to encourage public action during the European year against Poverty and Exclusion. The campaign is based around several ‘missions’ to be achieved by everyone who signs up, including signing a petition to tackle poverty in Europe, with the hope that by reaching over one million signatures they can push the European Parliament into action.

I have to admit, at a first glance it seems dubious that the campaign will really achieve anything; after all, the final policy decisions will be made by politicians in the European Union. However, there is much to be said for the power of the public voice, and if the petition is successful, it will raise some key issues to the forefront of European policy. The campaign also encourages those who register to engage in their ‘missions’, ranging from simply buying a copy of the Big Issue, to writing a blog post about it all (yes, I have been sucked in already!).

Whether this campaign will end up relegated to the list of utopian ideals such as the MAKE POVERTY HISTORY campaign, or if it has the potential to launch a wave of public support remains to be seen. Its success may lie in the coordination and collaboration of charities and organisations across Europe, and building a foundation for future policy changes. It is unlikely that we will see poverty eliminated, but every step towards that goal – even merely raising awareness of the problems that lie on our doorstep – will make a difference.

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Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 11:42 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes, it is certainly a good campaign and chimes well with 2010 designated the EU’s Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (www.2010againstpoverty.eu). As for whether it will be effective, only time will tell, but you can’t expect instant results.

    The EU as part of its initiatives will launch a lot of projects etc but I guess would focus mainly on promotion of the issue. It’s quite hard to believe that 1 in 5 Europeans are at risk of falling below the breadline – especially with a currency, remaining strong in the financial climate (albeit weakening now thanks to Greece’s understated budget deficit).

    Anyway, the petition is a good idea. Remember that under the Lisbon Treaty, if any petition gets over 1 million signatures, the European Commission is obliged to put forward proposals to act on it. So only 999,600 to go…

  2. MAKE POVERTY HISTORY is far more than an utopian ideal! If millions are not be continue to suffer from degrading poverty, it is vital that efforts continue. I deal with this in my new book Beyond Reach? which tells the story of the Make Poverty History campaign in the UK in a novel way. There are details on http://www.johnmadeley.co.uk
    Royalties from the book go to agencies working to eradicate poverty.


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