Poverty: Add It to EU History Books
1 in 4 European children are at risk of poverty. Can Europe eradicate it completely by 2030?

This article by Hazel English won the first prize in My Europe's essay competition in Dublin.

The task was to write a futuristic piece about Europe in the 2030s.

An estimated 245 million Europeans wiped the dust off their television screens last night to watch EU council president Maria Dantero deliver her heavily anticipated speech announcing the eradication of poverty in the European Union. The announcement comes two months after the 15-year Better Europe scheme to tackle Europe’s problems in the areas of poverty and homelessness, set out in 2015, was due to conclude.

In her ten minute-long speech, Dantero urged Europeans to “be proud of what we have achieved”, and scenes from various European cities have depicted crowds celebrating the continent’s achievement, with several landmarks being lit blue for the occasion, including the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum.

The “Better Europe” scheme was introduced in 2015, when it was acknowledged by the European Parliament that "pulling our economy out of recession” was only worth it if they could also “lift our people out of poverty”. The scheme tackled both Europe’s problems with homelessness as well as widespread poverty.

When the scheme was introduced in 2015, 16.4% of Europe’s population were living below the poverty threshold, and 4.1m were homeless. The number of people without shelter rose to 4.5m in 2020, when Albania and Serbia joined the EU.

The Better Europe Eradication of Homelessness program saw, over the first eight years of its lifespan, 4.5m of the 11m unoccupied properties in Europe converted into affordable housing. Also as part of the scheme, many EU member states offered the newly-housed low interest loans, and each state was required to set up a PSBR (Preparatory and Supervisory Board for Reemployment), to offer free courses for the unemployed to train them for reemployment, and then assist with job-seeking.

A pan-European counselling service for those experiencing drug problems or mental-health issues, Suppetiae, was launched. Initially, several states struggled to budget for the scheme, and participants of the Better Europe Eradication of Homelessness program were offered PSBR courses in neighbouring states. However, after the economic turn-around of 2019, which saw several previously devastated economies, such as those of Greece and Portugal, experience rapid growth, the Better Europe scheme gathered pace and in 2026 it was announced that less than 0.1% of Europe’s population were without residence.

The latter half of President Dantero’s speech dealt with the steps that were involved in “ensuring that every child can get an education and no adult need fear redundancy - eradicating hunger and poverty across the Union”, speaking of the major tax cuts for lower income households over the last 15 years, and how the introduction of widespread solar power in 2023 meant that millions of euro remained in the public’s pockets, rather than in the bank accounts of oil barons. Dantero also mentioned her own involvement in drawing out the Better Europe Eradication of Poverty directive, and how that added to her “joy at finally seeing it a reality”.

The Better Europe Eradication of Poverty scheme began in 2015, and within its first 12 years of existence, managed to reinvent public services throughout Europe, introducing better early childhood education, making counselling compulsory in all second-level institutions, and a whole new care system.

The new Europe that has been born from these major upheavals in state care is one with a strong focus on family, as demonstrated through new EU legislations, such as the Family and Employment directive – allowing parents certain hours off a week, for which they are still paid 30-50% of their usual wage.

Dantero by no means made this milestone seem like an easy feat, reminding us of the hardships along the way, such as the infamous Solar Taxes in the early 2020s, and the ECB’s much-needed monetary assistance in the early years of the scheme. Maria Dantero closed her speech by remarking on how “inspiring” she found it to see Europe achieve and celebrate the reaching of this goal with such a strong sense of unity, and finished by announcing the EU’s plans to share the prosperity it has found through becoming a hub for MNCs, with the renewed set of Millennium Development Goals, aiming to eradicate global poverty by 2040.

The President’s final words were “I hope everybody enjoys the celebrations tonight, and can sleep soundly knowing that none of our fellow Europeans are going to bed with hunger pains in their stomachs, or without a roof above their head.”