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This chapter is archived. Its content will however remain accessible.

For up-to-date information please go to the
"Free food for the most deprived people in the EU"
pages on this website.


Free food for Europe's poor

Who are the EU's most deprived persons?

To make sure the programme directs its resources where they are most needed, there must be a way of measuring relative poverty in each Member State. The Impact Assessment will examine the present method and look at other possible approaches which could serve as the basis for allocating funds.

The allocation of resources between Member States is based on population data and statistics on poverty provided by Eurostat. The indicator Eurostat uses to measure income poverty is the "at risk of poverty rate". This represents the share of people with an income below 60 % of the national "equivalised median income". Other thresholds, set at 40 %, 50 % and 70 % are also computed by Eurostat every year.

Poverty is measured by Eurostat as a relative concept, with no reference to an EU benchmark. This is because minimal acceptable standards usually differ between societies according to their general level of prosperity - someone regarded as poor in a wealthy, developed country might be regarded as rich in a poor, developing country.

Using this data from Eurostat, a first allocation of resources is carried out on the basis of the distribution of "poor people" in Europe, among the Member States that want to participate in the programme.

Even if the "at risk of poverty rate" does not allow the most deprived people to be identified - but only the larger category of "poor people" – it currently represents the best way to allocate the available resources among Member States.


  • Total population, people at risk of poverty, "at risk of poverty rate" [pdf]
  • Illustrative value of the at risk of poverty threshold (set at 60 % of the national equivalised median income) for a single person, after social transfers [pdf]



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Commission proposal


Legal texts


Who are the EU's most deprived persons?

Impact assessment

Hearings and working papers

Public consultation

Eurostat statistics on population and social conditions

The EU Social Protection and Social Inclusion Process

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Last update: 19-03-2008