- Aims of the conference
- Background information and documents
Minimum Income provisions are social assistance schemes of last resort, and are therefore a lifeline for the people in greatest poverty. They are a basic human right, underpinned by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and a key pillar of the European Social Model. Minimum Income schemes generally cover people of working age and access to the schemes often requires that the person is actively seeking work. But an adequate income is necessary for people throughout the life cycle, enabling every women, man and child to lead a dignified life.
EAPN has been running a long-standing campaign on the importance of adequate Minimum Income Schemes, convinced that high quality Minimum Income Schemes are an essential foundation for inclusion and for building fairer societies. (See www.adequateincome.eu). Some important progress has been made in this regard, in the EU.
In June 1992, the European Council issued a Recommendation on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems. This recommendation stimulated positive revisions and developments in Member States’ minimum income schemes. In 2008, the Commission adopted a recommendation on Active Inclusion of people excluded from the Labour market which “recognised the individual’s basic right to resources and social assistance sufficient to live a life that is compatible with human dignity”. During 2008/9 important steps have been taken towards implementation, including the EU Social Inclusion Independent Experts synthesis report on minimum income across the EU. This report highlighted the continuing lack of schemes in 3 Member States (Hungary, Greece and Italy), and confirmed that most minimum income schemes continued to keep people below the poverty line, falling far short of providing an adequate income.
A major issue has also been how adequacy of levels are established. “Make work pay” policies, have too often been used to drive down minimum income levels, below already inadequate minimum wage levels, rather than developing a positive upward hierarchy between minimum income and minimum wages.
The social impact of the crisis has further underlined the importance of minimum income and social protection systems as ‘automatic stabilisers’, promoting social cohesion as well as preventing and alleviating poverty. However the pressure to reduce public deficits and to comply with the Stability and Growth Pact, is putting pressure on Member States to implement cuts in minimum income levels and to tighten eligibility, with devastating impact on people already or newly living in poverty.
2010 offers key opportunities for progress – as part of a positive legacy for the EU Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion, building on the proposals for a Poverty target and programme in the heart of the Europe 2020 Strategy. During 2010, the European Parliament is also developing an important own initiative report on “minimum income as a tool to fight poverty” in support of these demands.
Starting from the experiences of people living on a minimum income, the conference will engage in a timely review of the role of minimum income in promoting a better life for all, and review the progress made, in the context of the European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion. The aim is to press for concrete proposals which can ensure an adequate minimum income as a lasting legacy from the 2010 year that will directly impact on the lives of the 84 million people in poverty in the EU. Such proposals could include the proposal for a Framework EU directive on Minimum Income which would mark a historic step forward in EU cooperation to achieve a high level of social standards in the EU, in the context of the new Treaty.
- Highlight the reality of living on a minimum income for people in poverty and the social and economic impact of ensuring an adequate income.
- Carry out a stocktaking of progress on guaranteeing adequacy and on follow up to the Active Inclusion Recommendation.
- Exchange experiences on positive examples and methods of establishing adequacy, as well as alternative approaches to financing.
- Identify recommendations on how to advance EU cooperation to ensure adequate minimum income, linked to a political declaration for the year and commitments under the Hungarian Presidency.
- Programme of the conference: English – French – Dutch
- This conference debated on a key document, the proposal for an EU Framewok Directive on Minimum Income made by Anne Van Lancker, Consultant for EAPN: English and French .
- Legal assessment written for EAPN by law firm ‘Sérvulo Associados’:An EU Directive on Adequate Minimum Income: a Legal Assessment: English
- Adequate minimum income in brief! EAPN’s 4-page leaflet summarises what ‘minimum income schemes for all’ mean and EAPN demands: English – French – Dutch
- What is an adequate minimum income? The Adequacy of Minimum Income in the EU is the 2nd in a series of 3 EAPN booklets called Explainers. It explains what minimum income schemes are at present throughout the EU and how and why minimum income schemes should be “adequate”: English – French
- Timeline and background on EAPN’s campaign on minimum income: English – French
- Website of EAPN’s campaign for adequate minimum income schemes: www.adequateincome.eu
- BAPN’s website: www.bapn.be
- CONFERENCE REPORT: English – French
9.00 Welcome and opening
- Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN, Introduction to Minimum Income, EAPN demands the Conference
- Magda De Meyer, State Secretariat for Social Integration and Combating Poverty, Belgium
9.20 Opening Session
Laying a foundation for a fairer EU: the role of adequate Minimum Income
- Geneviève Baert (BE) and Bela Radics (HU), living on minimum income, Bela Radics’ speech
- Philippe Delhez, National Bank of Belgium, Poverty in Europe
- Jozef Niemiec, Confederal Secretary, ETUC
10.00 Appraisal and Recommendations on Minimum Income schemes made by the EU Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion
- Eric Marlier, Manager of EU Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion, MInimum Income Schemes across Eu member states, Recommendations
10.15 Ensuring an adequate minimum income – EU plans?
- Lászlo Andor, European Commissioner, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Laszlo Andor’s speech
11.30 6 Parallel Workshops: Overcoming the challenges (continued 14.30-15.30)
Workshop 1: Making progress on EU Social Standards: an EU Directive on Minimum income
Facilitator: Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN, BAPN, Norms in social standards in Europe (in French & Dutch)
- Anne Van Lancker, EAPN Consultant: Proposals for an EU Directive on Minimum Income
- Magda De Meyer, State Secretariat for Social Integration and Combating Poverty, Belgium
- Loredana Guadagno, participant living on minimum income, Italy, Loredana Guadagno’s speech
Workshop 2: Using Participative Standard Budgets to calculate adequate income
- Berenice Storms, Coordinator of the Belgian Standard Budget Project, What do families need for social participation? Belgian reference budgets for social inclusion
- Bernadette MacMahon, Director of the Vincent Partnership for Social Justice, Bernadette MacMahon’s speech
- Frederic Vanhauwaert, BAPN and Rosemary Dooley, EAPN Ireland, participants from standard budget projects
Workshop 3: Minimum Income as part of Integrated Active Inclusion approaches
- Heidi-Rusten Lohrmann, Norwegian Qualification Programme, Active Inclusion of vulnerable groups
- Per K Larsen, EAPN Denmark, Overførstergården Homeless Project, An example from Denmark
- Dag Westerheim, EAPN Norway, The Qualification Programme and Johanna Engen, Oslo Poor House & board member of EAPN Norway, Johanna Engen’s speech
Workshop 4: Ensuring adequate income throughout the life cycle (children/older people)
- Jean-Pierre Bultez, EAPN/AGE France – Chair of Social Inclusion group, Le Coeur de la Question (in French), An Adequate Minimum Income for Pensioners
- Jana Hainsworth, Eurochild Chief Executive, Ensuring adequate income throughout the life-cycle
- Maryse Martin, participant living on a minimum income/ EAPN France
Workshop 5: Minimum Income and Minimum Wage – establishing a positive hierarchy
- Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance, EAPN UK/Scotland, Beyond the Minimum? The role of living wages in tackling poverty
- Michel Debruyne, Advisor, ACW Research, Belgium, The relation between minmum wages & minimum income, the Belgian situation
- Štefan Ferenc, participant from Roma Community/Czech Republic
Workshop 6: Financing an adequate income for all
- Philippe Pochet, General Director, ETUI, Poverty & Tax Rates
- Dirk Geldof, Antwerp Public Centre for Social Welfare, Financing an adequate income, the Belgian struggle
16.00 Final Plenary: What way forward? How can progress be made?
Round Table Panel Debate with EU decision makers
- Philippe Courard, Belgian Secretary of State for Social Integration and Combating Poverty, Philippe Courard’s speech
- Imre Nyitrai, Deputy State Secretary, Hungarian Government
- Antonia Carparelli, Head of the Social inclusion unit, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, European Commission