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.
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.
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.
On April 22 EAPN Melilla organised an event to discuss Minimum Income schemes (EMIN) in Spain and in Europe. Continue reading
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
08/03/2016 – 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
01/03/2016 – Two new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on “basic income” scheme initiatives in Switzerland and Finland. Continue reading