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.

See how your MEPs have voted!

To see how your MEPs voted on the Minimum Income amendment in their report on A European Pillar of Social Rights (Rapporteur -Maria João Rodrigues MEP) see votes-mi-amendment-social-pillar-report: pages 46 and 47.  Please note there are still some days for corrections if voting is not recorded correctly. You may get the chance to speak with your MEPs to understand better why they voted they way they did and to continue to build the conversation with them about the importance of adequate and accessible Minimum Income Schemes.

European Parliament support for actions to ensure adequate minimum income schemes

The European Parliament accepted the following amendment in their report on A European Pillar of Social Rights (Rapporteur -Maria João Rodrigues MEP):  “Highlights the importance of adequate minimum income schemes for maintaining human dignity and combating poverty and social exclusion, as well as their role as a form of social investment enabling people to participate in society, and to undertake training and/or look for work; invites the Commission and the Member States to assess minimum income schemes in the European Union, including whether the schemes enable households to meet their needs; invites the Commission and the Member States to evaluate on this basis the manner and the means of providing an adequate minimum income in all Member States and to consider further steps in support of social convergence across the European Union, taking into account the economic and social circumstances of each Member State, as well as national practices and traditions;

The amendment was proposed by the Green, Social and Democrats and GUE groups and passed with the support of some members of the ALDE and EPP group.  This is a good basis of support for the work of the EMIN 2 project (2017-2018). A big thanks to EAPN mmebers and other civil society actors who engaged their MEPs to ensure support for this amendment.

New ESPN Report on Minimum Income Schemes in Europe

18/03/2016 – The European Social Policy Network (ESPN) has just published a major new report, Minimum Income Schemes in Europe: a Study of National Policies. The report finds that minimum income (MI) schemes play a vital role in alleviating the worst impacts of poverty and social exclusion in many countries. However, in too many countries MI schemes still fall short of ensuring a decent life for the most vulnerable in society. Progress in improving them in recent years has been disappointing. 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

World Bank Group and ILO join forces in launching Universal Social Protection Initiative.

On 30 June 2015 the global audience became a witness to a major policy shift within the World Bank Group—for the first time it explicitly endorsed universal social protection as a primary development priority. The joint statement issued in Geneva by the heads of the two global agencies—by the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and ILO Director General Guy Rider — called the attention of world leaders to the importance of universal social protection and financing.

To read more see article Universal Social Protection ICSW Newsletter July 2015

Social Platform letter to President Juncker

The Social Platform in its letter to President Juncker, sent in the context of the forthcoming second orientation debate on social policy reiterates its call for:  “Adequate minimum income schemes of at least 60% of national median income to protect people against poverty across the life-cycle, linked to reference budgets that capture real needs in relation to access to goods and services. Member States should be supported in the progressive realisation of such schemes, including through an EU framework directive”.

You can read the full letter here Social Platform letter EC college orientation debate on its social policy

Developments regarding Minimum/Basic Income in the Netherlands

Information from Jo Bothmer, EAPN Netherlands

In the Netherlands the DSS of the City of Utrecht, and it looks like the city of Tilburg as well, wants to set up an experiment with, what in the press is called, a Basic Income. Aim is to simplify the regulations for social assistance for certain groups. There will be 3 different groups within this experiment. One will get different, new, ruling. One will get less ruling and one group will have no rules at all. The last group is seen as the group with a Basic Income. But the experiment is however not about the Basic Income. It is meant to see which approach is the most successful.

This experiment is done under the new Participation law, in which those who ask for or already have social assistance are meant to go for a quid pro quo. The service in return for income should be voluntary work or helping neighbours who need special care. You may be also ‘forced’ into a ‘project’ for this quid pro quo.

The fact that municipalities start this kind of Basic Income experiments puts the idea of the BI in the middle of the discussion. EAPN NL is a member of the working group “Poverty and Social Exclusion” of the 35 cities with over 100.000 inhabitants. So we take part in the discussion. We brought in two things which we felt that should be taken into account:

  1. what definition is used for Basic Income? We see how each group uses it own definition.
  2. The fact that EMIN exist and offers a lot of information about minimum income.

Seen the overwhelming reactions, Utrecht has made very clear in a statement, which was published yesterday, that their experiment can be called a Basic Income, but that this is not what the experiment is about.

We are looking forward how this develops further.

New article on EMIN project

Access article on EMIN in Katoikos at the following link: http://www.katoikos.eu/highlights/the-challenges-of-adequate-minimum-income-in-europe.html

The goal of Katoikos is to reach normal citizens across Europe, get them interested in European affairs in the largest possible sense, and encourage them/you to engage in horizontal dialogue. Thrie goal is also to help fellow EU citizens and ourselves develop opinions on European issues that we often do not know much about, although we should and we must, because they impact our lives.