Thermostat of a heating system (archive image): what to do if you don't have enough money?
Photo: Arno Burgi / dpa
According to calculations by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), almost three million people in Europe cannot properly heat their own four walls even though they have a job.
Around 2.7 million people - this corresponds to 15 percent of Europeans in so-called working poverty - do not have the necessary money for heating costs, according to the European umbrella organization of trade unions.
"There are millions of underpaid workers in Europe who have to choose whether to heat their homes, support their families or pay their rent even though they have a full-time job," said ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch.
Rising energy prices make the problem even bigger.
For the analysis, the trade union federation evaluated relevant data from the European statistical office.
Workers at risk of poverty (“working poor”) are people who earn less than 60 percent of the median wage in a country.
Not all countries in the EU are equally affected by the problem. In Cyprus, for example, almost every second worker at risk of poverty is unable to heat adequately, according to the ETUC - followed by Bulgaria (42.8 percent), Lithuania (34.5 percent) and Portugal (30.6 percent). In Germany, however, the quota of people at risk of poverty who cannot heat sufficiently is only 7.9 percent.
Electricity and gas are currently more expensive than ever in Europe - and are likely to become even more expensive due to climate protection measures.
The European Union has set itself the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
With the energy transition, one must ensure that the most vulnerable part of the population does not pay the highest price, said EU Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans about a week ago.
The trade union federation has now called on the EU to introduce a "threshold of decency" into a planned directive on the minimum wage so that people have enough money left for heating.
The minimum wage in 20 European countries is below the poverty line.
mic / AP