Fostering cooperation between Public Authorities on Minimum Income

Participants at the first meeting of National Public Authorities responsible for Minimum Income schemes, facilitated by the European Minimum Income Network (EMIN), the PPS Social Integration Service (the national Public Authority with responsibilities for Minimum Income Schemes in Belgium) and the European Commission.

The aim of this meeting was to:

  • Strengthen the engagement and interaction of public authorities in the EMIN Project and network
  • Foster cooperation and exchange of experience and learning between Public authorities on Minimum Income

After this successful first meeting a follow up meeting will be arranged in Spring 2018.

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Getting ready for Bus visit to England

Katherine Duffy National EMIN Coordinator meets with East Midlands regional organisers of Unite Community, which is campaigning to ‘pause and fix’ Universal Credit (the social assistance minimum income). They are also campaigning on ‘decent work’.  Unite Community is the Community arm of the UK’s largest trades union, Unite. Katherine and Colin Hampton (Derby Unemployed Centre) spoke to their Regional Forum and told about the work of EMIN. The Forum have agreed to support the bus tour stop in Leicester. The preparations and planning move forward but still lots to do!

European Road Show – Decent Minimum Income: Nobody deserves less, everybody benefits

“In cash based societies to leave people without cash is to expose them to intolerable risks”

The focal point of the EMIN awareness-raising activities will be to coordinate and implement the initiative ‘European Minimum Income – Journey for better Minimum Income Schemes and a better Europe’

Two buses will be used for the journey and they each will travel for two months setting out from a high-profile ceremony in Brussels in late April 2018. Each bus will be identified by a wrap displaying the main messages of the EMIN awareness raising activity.   Between the two buses we aim to visit 32 European countries. At least 4 days should be spent in each country and on the days the bus will be stopped a series of meetings will be held with civil society organisations, politicians and with the public.

An information tool about this Road Journey will be developed early in the New Year.

 

European Parliament gives strong backing for improved Minimum Income Schemes

The Parliament report on ‘minimum income policies as a tool for fighting poverty’ rapporteur Laura Agea, was adopted in Plenary yesterday with 451 votes in favour, 147 against and 42 abstentions.

Highlights from the report include:

  • The call on all Member States (MS) to upgrade their minimum income schemes so that they ensure a life in dignity to households with insufficient income, support their participation in society and ensure their autonomy across the life cycle
  • That MS should set minimum income schemes above the poverty line, taking into account the Eurostat risk-at-poverty threshold, set at 60% of national median income after social transfers, together with other indicators such as reference budgets
  • Recalls the EESC opinion on a framework directive on minimum income in the EU, which should lay down common rules and indicators, provide methods for monitoring its implementation and improve dialogue between the individuals concerned, the Member States and the EU institutions and calls on the Commission and the Member States, in this regard, to evaluate the manner and the means of providing an adequate minimum income in all Member States;

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Greece’s first national minimum income scheme

The European Social policy Network (ESPN) has issued a Flash Report on Greece’s first national minimum income scheme. The report highlights that “it is only since February 2017 that Greece has a national minimum income scheme: the “Social Solidarity Income”. This scheme is means-tested and combines income support, access to services and support for labour market (re)integration. Yet, although highly welcome, its coverage is confined to households living in extreme poverty, due to the very strict eligibility criteria. Moreover, the amount of the benefit can hardly ensure a dignified standard of living”.

You can access the report at this link New-Minimum-Income-Scheme- Greece-ESPN-Flash-Report-July-2017

Cypriot Conference on Guaranteed Minimum Income Policies

Half Day Conference on “Guaranteed Minimum Income Policies in Cyprus and Greece and the European Intervention” took place on Thursday, May 11th, at the “Marcos Drakos” Hall, at SEK Building in Nicosia . The conference marked the launch of the European Minimum Income Network (EMIN2) program and was organized by EAPN-Cyprus.

The conference was welcomed online by Fintan Farrell the Project Manager, Ninetta Kazantzis the President of EAPN-Cyprus, SEK (Cyprus Workers’ Confederation) General Secretary Andreas Matsas and the General Manager of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance, Andreas Assotis, on behalf of the Minister Mrs Zeta Emilianidou.

The basic presentation of the EMIN2 program was made by EMIN national coordinator Nicos Satsias, who analyzed the program. EMIN2, said Mr Satsias, is an informal network of organisations and individuals, committed to achieve the progressive realisation of adequate, accessible and enabling Minimum Income Schemes.  EMIN unites various experts, professionals, academics and diverse entities active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

The second module of the conference consisted of a contribution by the advisor of the Minister of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance, Mr Fanos Kourouphexis, who analyzed the philosophy and policies of the Guaranteed Minimum Income in Cyprus and of course all the related evolutions since the day of the implementation of the new system, July 2014.

Two very interesting contributions were then submitted, by Dr Gabriel Amitsis, Professor of TEI of Athens, entitled  “The Development of Minimum Income Policies in the Greek Social Welfare System” and by Mrs Fotini Marini, SYGKLISIS, on “The Model of National Strategies for Social Integration – Lessons from Greece and Cyprus “.

The seminar was concluded with discussion, interventions by participants and questions. As a general conclusion it was accepted that there is always space for improvement, in all the areas (access, adequacy and enabling) of Guaranteed Minimum Income.

Minimum Income and the European Pillar of Social Rights

After a long period of consultations, last week the European Commission has published its communication establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights.

We fully support the ambition of the Commission to ensure that the social pillar will be part of the efforts to launch a new process of social convergence within the Economic and Monetary Union ad the EU more generally. The Inter-institutional Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights should contribute to a firm endorsement of all rights enshrined in the pillar by all relevant European Institutions.

We welcome the recognition of the right to adequate minimum income benefits ensuring a life in dignity at all stages of life, and to effective access to enabling goods and services, as part of the European Pillar of Social Rights. However we are concerned with the narrow definition of incentives to reintegrate into the labour market, pointing only at the design of the benefit to preserve financial incentives to take up a job. The Recommendation on active inclusion rightly refers to the need for inclusive labour markets and access to quality services to provide minimum income beneficiaries a fair chance to take up a decent job.

EMIN will shortly produce a more developed position on the Social Pillar and its potential for promoting adequate Minimum Income Schemes.

See the Commisison Staff Working Document (Minimum Income Pages 55-57)