The risk of poverty is a key issue for European countries. Irrespective of the uneven evolution of that risk – a sharp increase in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008 followed by an overall decrease in the past few years – people at risk of poverty represent a key target of social protection and social assistance schemes across the EU Member States and a persistent challenge for policymakers. In response to the call for tender proposed by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), this paper explores some of the many dimensions of old-age poverty and considers the possibility of addressing at least some of these dimensions by means of a guaranteed minimum income for retired persons, including one that could be introduced or coordinated at European level.
The paper is organised in three parts. Chapter 1 collects information on poverty risks across Europe and age groups (e.g. between working-age and elderly populations) to assess how people of both working and retirement age are affected by poverty. Some preliminary data shed light on the impact of the pandemic. Chapter 2 assesses minimum pension schemes across Europe (comparing these schemes for the elderly with minimum income schemes for those of working age), with some insights about their efficacy. We also identify the standards that should be kept in account for designing adequate minimum income policies after retirement. Chapter 3 summarises the recent debate at the EU level and suggests policy strategies to provide effective minimum income protection for elderly people to lead a life in dignity. The paper ends with some preliminary conclusions and remarks.