At the launch of OSE-ETUI publication on ‘Social policy in the European Union: state of play 2016’ on 27th February, Professor Martin Seeleib-Kaiser of Oxford University presented his proposal for the creation of a European minimum income scheme for people who use their right to free movement in the EU to look for work.
Starting point is his diagnosis that the EU regulation on coordination of social protection schemes in many cases doesn’t work for people who can only export very limited rights to a very low unemployment benefit. For example: a Romanian person looking for a job in Germany only has right to a Romanian unemployment benefit of 27€ per month, a sum impossible to make a living in Germany. In most countries, the right to an unemployment benefit is also strictly limited in time. These restrictions make people very vulnerable to exploitation.
Seeleib-Kaiser therefore proposes to create a European minimum income scheme that would provide temporary benefits at a very modest level for those persons who use the freedom of movement to look for a job in another country. The benefit would be at the level of 25% of the median income in the country of destination and would be granted for a period of maximum 3 months during a year. Total cost of EU funding for such a scheme is calculated at 1 billion €; the scheme would cover 1.1 million people.
During the discussion, Anne Van Lancker, EMIN policy coordinator, argued that it would be better to guarantee access to decent minimum income schemes to people who are looking for a job in another country and who lack the necessary resources to make a living. The establishment of decent and accessible minimum income schemes for all in every Member States should be financially supported at EU level. This would also put an end to policies in Member States to refuse them access, invoking a so-called excessive burden on their social protection scheme. But the idea that researchers are supportive of an EU initiative on minimum income was warmly welcomed.
In his reply to the discussion, Seeleib-Kaiser stated that he and his team totally supported the idea of having decent minimum income schemes accessible for all who need it. His proposal on a European minimum income scheme for mobile workers however, would be a more modest achievement, that would put an end to injustice and inequality regarding the freedom of movement in the EU, he said.
Please find his presentation here.