10/10/2014-The Austrian EMIN-Conference took place in Kolping-Centre in Vienna. 120 participants from NGOs and universities, from public administration and authorities, from ministries and people experiencing poverty discussed the Austrian Minimum Income Scheme and European perspectives of adequate Minimum Income.
The introduction and comments on the “Bedarfsorientierte Mindestsicherung” (“means tested minimum income”) revealed numerous deficiencies and problems: Insufficient information from authorities, inadequate benefit levels, high non-take-up rates, unworthy and discriminatory treatment on Social Welfare Offices etc.Fintan Farrell (EAPN) presented the EMIN-Network and european perspectives on Minimum Income Schemes. Michaela Hofmann from Germany introduced “Hartz IV” and Michaela Moser presented the european work on reference budgets and their potentials to justify adequate Minimum Income. Marcel Fink finally commented that in times of austerity measures in Europe (linked with announced budget cutbacks on social policy in nearly all EU-countries) the chances for coordinated EU-policy on Minimum Income are not very high. But his should not result in resignation but be seen as a challenge to intensify the fight for improvements in social policy.
In the second part of the EMIN-Conference the participants discussed in a “World Café” problems and potentials of Minimum Income on national and internationale scale and developed joint positions and numerous recommendations. Much of the tables and themes were prepared and presented by people experiencing poverty (connected in the platform “Getting Visible”). The Conference ended with a public action of recipients of means tested minimum income and people experiencing poverty in the centre of Vienna: “Let us break down the walls!” In this action the participants symbolically tore down a wall consisting of barriers, which prevent effective alleviation of poverty.
Picture: The Austrian EMIN Conference ended with a public action of people experiencing poverty: “Breaking down the walls!” Walls consisting of circumstances preventing effective alleviation of poverty: “arbitrariness, precarious jobs, bank rescue, austerity measures, unemployment, inequality, high living costs, inadequate minimum income, …”
Read the full Austrian draft Report here.