Reference Budgets help to show what life is like for people on the poverty line

In a new paper, our EMIN partners from the Antwerp University, together with their colleagues from the European Reference Budgets Network, demonstrate how reference budgets can be used to show what it means to live on benefits at the level of the poverty threshold (60% of the equivalised median income in a country). Using cross-country comparable reference budgets, they show that a decent standard of living is more in reach for people living on 60% of median income in richer member states, but that even adequate food and housing are barely affordable for people in the poorest countries, living on an income at the level of the threshold. The reference budgets also show that the poverty risk of certain groups such as children is underestimated, compared to other age groups. They also indicate that the poverty risk of homeowners is probably overestimated.

The research shows that reference budgets provide policy makers and NGOs with a strong foothold for assessing the adequacy of minimum income support and are useful compliments for the existing indicators of poverty and social exclusion.

Access the paper Ref-budgets-to-contextualise-the-at-risk-of-poverty-indicator-April-2017

A European Minimum Income Scheme for mobile workers?

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.

European Commission launches consultation package on a European Pillar of Social Rights

Créer un environnement favorable aux entrepreneurs: Réduire les coûts liés à la conduite des affaires et simplifier les formalités administratives08/03/2016 – the European Commission launched a public consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights. EAPN welcomes an initiative that is rooted in a rights-based perspective. From the perspective of the EMIN Network, we welcome that the Communication from the Commission’s notes that Minimum income schemes do not exist in all Member States, as well as current challenges, such as inadequacy of benefit levels making it impossible for beneficiaries to escape poverty, low coverage, and non-take-up. It also points out difficulties with transitioning from unemployment benefits to minimum income. The commitment that “Adequate minimum income benefits shall be ensured for those who lack sufficient resources for a decent standard of living” will be important for the future work of EMIN. Continue reading

EESC should go back to basics and promote European integration, says its President Georges Dassis

Brussels, 13/11/2015 (Agence Europe) – The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) should go back to its primary role, namely expressing the views of civil society and advising the other European institutions on the best ways of encouraging European integration, which could include drawing up a plinth of European social rights, as desired by the European Commission. “We have to have a concrete message.” And what could be more concrete than establishing a minimum European income financed by an EU fund or building a European platform of social rights? he asks. Continue reading

ETUC adopts action plan in favour of EU Framework Directive on Adequate Minimum Income Schemes

ETUC-2015-13th-Congress02/10/2015 – Fintan Farrell, Coordinator for the EMIN Project and European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Project officer is attending today the 13th ETUC Congress #ETUC15. On behalf of the EMIN Project, its partners and EAPN, he congratulates the organisation for adopting an action plan in favour of an EU Framework Directive on Adequate Minimum Income Schemes.  This is great step forward. Congratulations to Claudia Menne for her careful and considered handling of this issue. It is just one of her legacies from her time as Confederal Secretary“, he said. Continue reading