Minimum income – Has the time come for an EU Directive?In the European Parliament this week, within the scope of the European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, a conference took place concerning the introduction of an EU Directive on minimum income. The Belgium Presidency regards this issue as one of its priorities. An idea, which so far has not aroused much enthusiasm with the Member States and the EU Commission.
Shall an EU Framework Directive guarantee a minimum income?
In a conference, which the Green Party in the European Parliament had especially organised to discuss this issue, it campaigned for an EU-wide regulation on minimum income. Anne van Lancker, former MEP and expert in this field commented that a planned Framework Directive would not be easy to realise and outlined its possible content. To begin with, she addressed some false perceptions, which would make a Framework Directive impossible. She stated, that there would certainly be a legal basis at EU level, but of course not on the concrete determination of the amount of the minimum income, because this would be reserved for the respective social partners. According to Van Lancker, the Framework Directive could among others include a common definition of the minimum income, the criteria of adequacy and the exchange of good practices of the Member States.
Member States do not agree on EU Framework Directive
In her presentation, the representative of the Belgian Presidency explained that many Member States would point towards the subsidiarity principle in connection with the introduction of a Framework Directive. This makes an answer relatively easy. Apart from the "intensive" exchange of good practices between the individual Member States, there will be no solution going beyond this in the near future. Although the final declaration of the European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion emphasises the importance of a minimum income to fight against poverty, there is no demand for an EU-wide Framework Directive. TheCommission representative too saw little hope for a Directive in the near future.
EU 2020 Agenda: Minimum income is important
Hence, it has been left to the Member States to guarantee a minimum income. That is also the idea of the EU 2020 Agenda. Austria has recently introduced minimum-income benefits. At EU level, this will, at least for the moment, remain an unfulfilled wish.