This conference was the opportunity for EAPN to launch a concrete proposal, which included the legal base, for a European framework directive on adequate minimum income schemes.
Many stakeholders attended the conference, including people living on minimum income from several EU countries who actively took part in the debates. “Living on minimum income means having to choose between getting treatment when you are sick and feeding your family”, said one participant. Another participant also declared that “on top on having to make such difficult choices every single day between paying your rent and feeding your children, I am scared that my children will inherit my poverty”.
Philippe Courard, Belgian Secretary of State for Social Integration and Combating Poverty, reiterated the Belgian Government’s support for an EU Directive on adequate minimum income. “Levels of poverty increased even in times of growth. We must acknowledge that the wrong answers were made in the past and that it is high time we found the means to redistribute wealth resources. Establishing adequate minimum income schemes for all in the Union must be a duty and an investment, not a cost”, he said.
Imre Nyitrai, Hungarian Deputy State Secretary for Social Affairs, declared that the Hungarian Government would commit to support the development of common European criteria for establishing the adequacy of minimum income schemes.
3 EU countries still have no national minimum income schemes and, in nearly all EU countries, the existing schemes do not take people above the commonly agreed EU poverty threshold. This, despite the fact, that the EU agreed a Recommendation on the right for all to an adequate minimum income, back in 1992.
EAPN welcomed Commissioner Andor’s position on the matter: “Adequate minimum income is of vital relevance for people living in poverty and we need to coordinate at EU level to fight root causes of poverty” said Commissioner Andor.
However, Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN said “With Eurobarometer polls now showing that, less than 50% of EU citizens have trust in the EU and more than 75% believing that the EU has a role to address poverty and social exclusion, it is time for the EU to take bold steps to defend and promote social standards or risk to be seen as undermining the European Social Model”. He added “A Directive on the Adequacy of Minimum Income Schemes would be one such step”.
Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN, closed the conference reminding that the lack of progress on minimum income schemes was a violation of Human rights. “It’s a disgrace for the EU that millions of its citizens are forced to make choices about basic needs, between eating and spending for schooling for one’s children, heating the house or getting medical treatment”. In conclusion, he said “we have shown that there is a legal base for an EU Directive on Minimum Income, we must now build the momentum to achieve the political action needed to take this step forward in European cooperation”.
- Read the press release in PDF here.