The frivolous tone of this article by le Monde about the parisians, published today, seems to me in sharp contrast with what was published by the international herald tribune on 1 April 2012 (and it is unfortunately not a “poisson d’avril” …).
This article contains interesting examples of how their condition is felt by those in poverty in Europe (info from 2006). A few excerpts:
“I can afford only cheap food; fruit and vegetables to feed children is too expensive; fish is not affordable; healthy food is too expensive for me.”
“The problem is not that we run out of money occasionally. The real problem is that we live our entire lives this way and our children grow up into this too.”
“It is impossible for me to invite the friends of my children at home, because my home is so small. So my children at their turn are not invited any more. Thus they become also excluded. We are obliged to lead a hidden life.”
“My children cannot participate in school holidays for skiing or a language week abroad. Training for lifelong learning is not affordable. I cannot afford cultural activities.”
“I don’t see any progress since years. I have no future.”
“I feel a little bit like Don Quixote. I am fighting against windmills here and there and there is no real hope anymore.”
“I have lost friends as I cannot participate in their activities; even to participate in self-help groups needs money and time; I’m short of money and time to participate in discussions.”
“I cannot afford a daily paper; books, especially scientific literature is too expensive.”
For the UK, more info on this – and in particular on lone parenting – can be found on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s website and blog:
Report on monitoring poverty and the impact of austerity measures in the UK (2012): http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/monitoring-poverty-2012
Three short films about what it feels to be poor, in particular, not being able to afford holidays, and the impact of one week of holidays subsidised by a charity: http://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/2013/01/poverty-captured-bbc-storyville-films
More info on the absence of “decent jobs” especially for young people in the UK: http://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/2013/01/no-jobs-housing-young-people
Info on the impact of poverty on diets, especially for lone parents: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/sp71.pdf
A paradox: on the one hand this interview stresses the importance of EU social model as an example for other countries, and in the other hand it underlines the inefficiency of EU as direct human rights promoter in China (fact that one of the things the Chinese value most about Europe is its “soft” policy and its “lack of differences with Chinese authorities as regards human rights promotion in China” (!) ).
Interesting view of the director of this Chinese think tank linked to the Chinese foreign office, that stresses the fact that EU divisions (in decision making) are good for China (it enables it to have more channels to influence Brussels).
UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report (August 2012) can be accessed here.