In a report obtained by the Guardian, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has condemned European governments response to the debt crisis which began four years ago. The 68 page report says:
Whilst other continents successfully reduce poverty, Europe adds to it.
As the economic crisis has planted its roots, millions of Europeans live with insecurity, uncertain about what the future holds. This is one of the worst psychological states of mind for human beings. We see quiet desperation spreading among Europeans, resulting in depression, resignation and loss of hope.
Many from the middle class have spiralled down to poverty.
The report finds that conditions in Europe have declined significantly over past four years, with millions more Europeans unable to obtain adequate medical care. The cost of living has become hard for families struggling to purchase necessities in the face of price rises and stagnant wages. Red Cross food distributions in 22 European countries soared by 75 per cent between 2009 and 2012.
The survey was conducted in the first half of the year and analysed all 28 EU countries. The crisis has had a huge impact on the structure of society in Europe. In countries such as Greece and Spain several generations of families are living in a single household with one earner for the entire family. The figures on youth unemployment were devastating, in a quarter of the countries surveyed youth unemployment ranged from 33 per cent to as much as 60 per cent. Unemployment has also risen dramatically amongst older workers. Joblessness amongst 50-64 year olds has risen from 2.8m to 4.6 between 2008 and 2012.
Poor economic conditions have played a large role in the emigration of 13 per cent of the populations of the Baltic states and Hungary. The report is not only critical of EU governments such Spain and Greece but also the powerhouse of the European economy, Germany. It highlights that a quarter of Germany's workforce are low wage workers with few employment rights and benefits, as well an increasing wealth gap. Similar problems were highlighted in other successful economies such as Denmark and Luxembourg.