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Principle 14

Minimum income

The EU exhibits improvements only in combating absolute poverty (material deprivation). However, efforts are not being undertaken to keep people out of poverty or social exclusion: in-work poverty is increasing. The majority of minimum income schemes across the EU are far from providing sufficient coverage, duration and adequacy of benefits. This is resulting in growing social divisions and labour market and economic disruptions.

ETUC believes that European citizens should also have the right to receive a guaranteed minimum income across all ages. This can be achieved through a combination of social protection tools and public investments in training for unemployed people with public employment services and activation policies that help every single person in the EU who is at risk of poverty or of social exclusion. EU standards for a minimum income cannot be seen as a disincentive to work.

Minimum income schemes must guarantee sufficient income to meet the essential needs of people and their dependents and be highly inclusive and accessible; for those able to work, they must be combined with a series of services and embedded within a broader EU and national policy response to active inclusion. The recently adopted Council conclusions on minimum income schemes empower the EC to reinforce the EU framework to combat poverty and social exclusion.  A legislative proposal in this field should ensure equivalent performance of national systems without altering their features, provided that the system ensures outcomes aligned to European standards. The ETUC demands that a binding initiative such as a European framework Directive establishes common principles, definitions and minimum standards to grant this right across the EU. In many countries, trade unions are key players in the management of social security bodies, often with joint-body entities, and through collectively bargained tools for social inclusion and protection of vulnerable categories. This is an asset that any EU initiative should build upon and accentuate and not threaten with undesired harmonizing legal frameworks.

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. To define the characteristics of a European Framework Directive on an adequate minimum income to combat poverty and social exclusion in EU.
  2. An instrument to define and design the functions of a minimum income, including a basket of goods as a parameter for setting living income levels.

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. Creating connections with SDG 1 and Anti-Poverty Action Plan as in Principle 11.
  2. Elaborate a Social Dialogue framework for social partners and governments to assess coverage, adequacy and effectiveness of Minimum Income Schemes in combination with social benefit and activation policies.