Adequate, accessible and enabling minimum income schemes: The time for action is now!

On 16 September, Social Platform, together with the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), Eurodiaconia and Caritas Europa, organised a workshop in the framework of the ‘Our Social Europe – Strong Together‘ conference of the German Presidency of the Council.

The workshop brought together different stakeholders to discuss adequate, accessible, and enabling minimum income schemes across Europe.

During the workshop, participants learned about good practices across different national settings. For example, Latvia is currently revising its minimum income scheme to ensure that it meets peoples’ basic needs and that everyone can live a life of dignity. Similarly, the Spanish scheme is set to increase the income of 2.3 million people which will undoubtedly lift a lot of its population out of the margins of poverty.

A poll taken during the workshop highlighted that 86% of the participants agreed that a binding EU Framework Directive on Minimum Income is an important and crucial tool to decrease poverty and social exclusion.

The workshop concluded with the following key recommendation, which was presented by Social Platform’s Management Committee member, Leo Williams, during a high-level political panel:

What do we need? 

EU Institutions should agree a legally binding EU Framework Directive on rights based, adequate, accessible and enabling minimum income, respecting national systems, competencies and circumstances.

Why do we need it? 

Almost 22% of people live at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) in Europe – which amounts to almost 110 million people, or roughly 1.5 times the population of Germany. We can expect millions more to be dragged into poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vulnerable groups are at particular risk of poverty and social exclusion, such as persons with disabilities, Roma people, migrants and single parents.

Soft mechanisms have proved insufficient to provide incomes at an adequate level to respect the rights and dignity of those in need. A legally binding Framework Directive would guarantee everyone’s right to an adequate minimum income and enable their full participation in society.

How should this be implemented? 

EU Member States should agree strong Council Conclusions calling on the European Commission to propose a legally binding Directive, which should be supported by EU funds to support national level implementation. This could be done in two ways, through the ESF+ funds and through a relaxation of the Stability and Growth Pact, enabling EU Member States to spend public funds on Minimum Income.

The time to take decisive leadership and action is now! Read all of the organisers’ key recommendations, addressed to the EU and national level, here.

Social Platform’s position paper on an ‘EU Framework Directive on Adequate Minimum Income’ can be found here.