Campaigners have called for urgent action to stamp out pensioner poverty after a report found nearly a third of British over-65s are living on below average incomes.
The European Commission statistics, published by Eurostat, place the UK's elderly among the worst in Europe, with 30 per cent living on incomes far below the national average.
This was the fourth highest level in Europe, better than only Cyprus, Latvia and Estonia, the figures showed.
European Commission figures revealed 30 per cent of Britain over-65s are living in poverty, with UK elderly the fourth poorest in the EU.
Age Concern and Help the Aged called for ministers to act through measures such as reforming the benefits and pension system.
The figures come ahead of the Work and Pension Committee's review of government efforts to tackle pensioner poverty, which is published on Thursday.
The EU research, which compared relative poverty in the 27 member states, showed nearly one in three UK over-65s were at risk of poverty in 2007, the same proportion as in Lithuania (30 per cent).
It revealed that in most leading European economies, pensioner poverty levels were either below or slightly above the EU average of 19 per cent.
British pensioners were worse off than Romania, where 19 per cent fell below the poverty threshold, Poland (8 per cent) and France (13 per cent).
Pensioners in the Czech Republic were least likely to be living in poverty, with 5 per cent below the threshold of an income of 60 per cent of the national median, according to the figures.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: 'What this report clearly shows is that, even before the recession sets in, many older people weren't keeping up with the pace at which the general wealth of the nation has increased over the past years.
'This means they risk being increasingly excluded from community life.
'In a country where the richest have incomes five times higher than the poorest, older people are disproportionately bearing the burden of this inequality.
'To lift millions of pensioners out of poverty and prevent this situation from getting worse in the future, this government and the next must find a more effective system to ensure benefits reach those who need them and mee the existing commitment to reform the pension system by 2012.'
Recent research by the charity showed one in five people aged 60 and over are skipping meals to save money on food, while two-fifths are struggling to afford essential items.