This open letter to the candidates campaigning for European Parliament seats was contributed by Unconditional Basic Income Europe and Basic Income Earth Network.
Given the commitment by the EU to reduce poverty by 20 million by 2020, most people want to know: what will you do to deliver results for people in the European Union? Did you know that according to the most recent data available, around one fourth of the EU population, that is about 120 million people, are at risk of poverty? However, given the prolonged economic crisis since 2008 and increasing automation of production permanently eliminating many jobs, there are reasons to believe that the situation will get even worse in the future if nothing changes.
Unconditional Basic Income Europe, which represents basic income networks and organisations in 25 EU countries, along with Basic Income Earth Network, with members all around the globe, would like to underline the current threat which income inequality represents to a peaceful, democratic and social Europe. Therefore we expect our newly elected representatives to support those strategies which will promote social cohesion and ensure sustainable and inclusive development in Europe. Our representatives should see the crisis as a wake-up call.
Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) is an amount of money, paid on a regular basis to each individual unconditionally and universally, high enough to ensure a material existence and participation in society. It differs from traditional guaranteed minimum income (GMI) / social security schemes by removing the bureaucracy and its costs as well as the stigma of means-testing. UBI also eliminates the disincentive to work caused by the high marginal tax rates (65-95%) imposed by these schemes.
Pilot studies throughout the world have proved that UBI is a far more effective tool for reducing poverty and inequality than traditional social security schemes and subsidies, with more positive effects on local economies, health, societal cohesion, public safety and education. An unconditional basic income implemented throughout Europe could also reduce tensions created by intra-EU immigration forced by lack of economic opportunity. It may seem like a radical proposal, but the current ‘business as usual’ attitude is not sustainable and endangers the EU itself.
We expect our representatives and the European Commission to take further serious and practical steps on the European Parliament resolution 2010/2039(INI) of 20 October 2010 on the role of minimum income in combating poverty and promoting an inclusive society in Europe.
Considering that the unemployment rate will gradually increase due to technological advancement while productivity increases, ordinary Guaranteed Minimum Income schemes are becoming less and less effective, leading to rising inequality and social exclusion – all these lead to conclusion that we need culture change to tackle these problems. If you are elected, will you raise a debate about unconditional basic income in the European Parliament and will you stand for implementing it in the EU?
The 9th of May is celebrated as Europe Day because of the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman. He had a strong vision of a Europe which was peaceful and prosperous for everybody without exception. Europe has become peaceful and prosperous, but not for everybody. Let´s finish the job Robert Schuman has started. What are we waiting for?
More info on basic income and poverty in Europe:
- Ending Poverty is a Political Choice!
- Short movie
- Recent interview with Prof. Philippe van Parijs, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL): Van Parijs: An unconditional basic income in Europe will help end the crisis, EurActiv, 11 April 2014
- Movie Basic Income – a Cultural Impulse