Almost one in six Europeans are living below the poverty line, the European Commission said.
An estimated 72 million people get by on less than 60% of their country’s average income – the “poverty threshold”.
The figure was used at a Brussels conference on poverty as evidence that more needs to be done to tackle the problem.
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Vladimir Spidla said Brussels would commit “considerable funding” from the EU budget to promote an inclusive society.
“The Commission will continue to support the fight against poverty and social exclusion,” he said. “Our goal must be to eradicate poverty in Europe. But we must not forget, that whenever we talk about targets and percentages we are in fact not talking about figures, we are talking about people and their potential and talents.”
The latest figures show that, across the 27 EU countries:
16% live below the poverty threshold;
10% live in jobless households;
19% of children are at risk of poverty;
8% of Europeans in employment (aged 18 and over) live below the poverty threshold.