ECONOMY

Greece plans social protection

Greece aims at reducing the percentage of people living in deprivation to the European Union average and narrowing the gap in living standards between urban and rural areas to above the average in southern Europe by 2010, Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas said at the launch of the process of dialogue on the National Plan for Social Integration yesterday. The plan also aims to boost the purchasing power of people facing «economic insecurity» (those somehow surviving or making ends meet but who are vulnerable) at least by one third, reduce by half the insecurity faced by those over 65 compared to those under this age, cover the requirements for child protection to all working mothers by 2008 and reduce the levels of child poverty and unemployment to the levels of the best respective five countries in the EU by 2010. Platon Tinios, head of the Committee for Social Protection, said the national social targets are linked to those concerning growth and employment and that their attainment greatly depends on sustained funding – a primarily political rather than technocratic matter. He said an estimated 1.8 million Greeks in the economic insecurity zone can benefit from the plan. Of these, about 800,000 are in deprivation, living under the economic insecurity line, with a monthly income of less than 850 euros for a family of four. Tinios said people living in rented accommodation in Greece are less likely to face economic insecurity than in other European Union countries, although they fare worse than compatriots who own their homes.