Latest Question in European Parliament on adequate Income

Nicola Caputo (Italian MEP S&D ) asks question regarding what the Commission intends to introduce minimum basic income.

Read further to see the full question and the response of Commissioner Thyssen.

Subject: European basic income

Minimum basic income is a concept implemented in Europe to differing degrees.  Recommendation 92/441/EC invited Member States to introduce the minimum basic income in their welfare systems. Various forms of welfare system exist in Member States, which can be divided into four models: Nordic (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands),  Continental (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg) and English-speaking (Ireland and Great Britain), all of which have imposed a basic minimum income, and Mediterranean (Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain), where such a scheme does not currently exist, although Spain and Portugal have launched a national debate proposing different forms of the minimum basic income. Europe should construct a common welfare system, founded on the centrality and prime status of every European citizen and ensuring equality of treatment for all.

In the light of the above and subject to the individual jurisdictions of Member States, does the Commission intend to take urgent action to encourage the harmonisation of legislation with the objective of constructing a single European welfare state, enabling Member States to introduce the minimum basic income?

Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the Commission

 The introduction of a minimum income is a Member State competence and the Commission will not initiate a framework directive on minimum income. Nevertheless, the Commission is implementing a pilot project[1] to promote a minimum income network, mutual learning and transfers of good practice. In cooperation with the Member States work has also started on developing a common methodology for reference budgets[2] to serve as a benchmark for minimum income schemes, inform on their adequacy and identify living costs of the most disadvantaged. Having a minimum income in every country based on minimum standards (such as reference budgets) is an important element of making a more social Union.

In addition, in line with the response provided to the Resolution referred to by the Honourable Members[3], the Commission monitors the levels of poverty in the EU and invites the Member States to use the policy guidance in the 2008 Commission Recommendation[4] on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market and the 2013 Social Investment Package[5] on providing adequate income support, joined up with inclusive labour-market measures and access to quality, enabling services, such as job-search assistance and skill training.

The Commission encourages the Member States to make the best use of the European Social Fund resources, of which at least 20% are earmarked for social inclusion. It can support the design and implementation of minimum income schemes, even though ESF cannot be used to pay out cash transfers to the beneficiaries.

[1]     See https://emin-eu.net/

[2]     http://www.referencebudgets.eu/

[3]     http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/ficheprocedure.do?reference=2010/2039(INI)&l=fr

[4]     Commission Recommendation 2008/867/EC of 3 October 2008 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market, OJ L 307, 18.11.2008, p. 11.

[5]     SWD(2013) 39 final of 20 February 2013

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