29th Mar 2023

MEPs demand directive for adequate EU minimum income

  • According to a report, no European minimum income scheme matches current needs of beneficiaries to have a minimum standard of living (Photo: Andre Taissin)
Listen to article

The European Parliament on Tuesday (14 March) passed a call for the EU Commission to improve minimum income coverage across the EU — through a binding measure for the EU-27, such as a directive.

MEPs sitting in Strasbourg passed the motion, with 336 votes in favour.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Minimum income schemes aim to benefit those who do not have a job, or even when they do, can not make ends meet.

This is about a young person who can not study without his parent's support. This is about a divorced woman who has to take care of her children and work at the same time. This is about a person with a long-term illness who can not work, explained Green MEP Sara Matthieu during Tuesday's plenary session.

"We need an adequate minimum income that ensures that every European citizen is able to buy food, to afford their rent, to be able to pay their electricity bills, and to be able to find a good job", she said.

The EU Council already adopted a new recommendation in January. The previous one dated back to 1992.

As S&D MEP Estrella Durá told EUobserver, this rule does not oblige member states to set up adequate minimum income schemes to ensure that no one ends up in poverty or social exclusion.

The recommendations are not delivering results at the required pace. The latest Eurostat figures estimate that 95.4 million people are trapped in this situation. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have only worsened the context.

"Despite the ever-worsening cost of living crisis, most minimum income schemes across the EU have remained almost unchanged in the past decade," Social Platform, an umbrella group of European social NGOs, told EUobserver.

According to a report from the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN), no European minimum income scheme matches the current needs of beneficiaries to have a minimum standard of living. Just two, Ireland and Netherlands, set this level above the poverty line.

"After we succeeded in anchoring an adequate minimum wage in European law, we need to do the same with the minimum income," said S&D spokesperson on employment Agnes Jongeirus just after the vote. "The Commission's recommendation is clearly not enough".

Safety nets — with big holes

The parliament's call for a directive includes three essential points: more coverage (above the poverty line), better accessibility (especially for vulnerable groups) and adequacy (so they reach everyone who is entitled to receive this support).

Between 30-50 percent of those who are eligible for these schemes, do not seek their help, EU commissioner Nicholas Schmit said on Tuesday. It needs to be ensured, Schmit added, that these safety nets are "up to the task".

However, Schmit stated that a directive does not fall within the scope of the treaties, who do not allow them to intervene in member states' social policies.

Both council and commission passed the ball to the member states' court, asking them to reduce administrative burdens, ensure that a person follows the process step-by-step, simplify the process, work at reducing stigmas and promoting social awareness of the aid.

Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income

The minimum income guarantee was a condition included in the coalition agreement between the Socialists and the leftist group Unidas Podemos, after the indecisive results of the November national elections.

Polish abortion rights activist vows to appeal case

Polish abortion rights activists Justyna Wydrzyńska was last week sentenced for giving abortion pills to a 12-week pregnant woman. She will appeal. But with a court stacked by politically-appointed judges, her chances of overturning it are slim.


Why can't we stop marches glorifying Nazism on EU streets?

Every year, neo-Nazis come together to pay tribute to Nazi war criminals and their collaborators, from Benito Mussolini to Rudolf Hess, Ante Pavelić, Hristo Lukov, and of course Adolf Hitler, in events that have become rituals on the extreme-right calendar.

Latest News

  1. EU approves 2035 phaseout of polluting cars and vans
  2. New measures to shield the EU against money laundering
  3. What does China really want? Perhaps we could try asking
  4. Dear EU, the science is clear: burning wood for energy is bad
  5. Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity
  6. Finnish elections and Hungary's Nato vote in focus This WEEK
  7. EU's new critical raw materials act could be a recipe for conflict
  8. Okay, alright, AI might be useful after all

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality
  6. Promote UkraineInvitation to the National Demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine on 25.02.2023

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Azerbaijan Embassy9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting
  2. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  3. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  4. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  5. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us