EAPN and EMIN have repeatedly called for a Framework DIrective on Minimum Income, as well as the ETUC, EESC, Social Platform, Eurodiaconia and Caritas Europa, to name a few. There is new and compelling evidence that there is a strong legal and policy basis for introducing a binding EU framework for adequate national minimum income schemes, at this moment. This Expert Opinion, commissioned by EAPN, now provides the legal and policy arguments on the feasibility and added value of introducing a binding EU framework for adequate national minimum income schemes. It strongly recommends the adoption of an EU framework directive on minimum income that entitles individuals to enforceable legal rights. ‘Soft law’ instruments have simply proven insufficient to ensure that Member States make substantial progress on the prevention and reduction of poverty and social exclusion and the realisation of social rights.
It clarifies the appropriate scope and content of such a binding EU-level and EU-wide instrument and proposes a new dual legal basis building on competences the EU has in the social policy and cohesion policy fields and fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. A dual basis approach is not only possible but highly desirable to adopt an EU-wide instrument on minimum income that is truly compatible with principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights – that ‘everyone lacking sufficient resources has the right to adequate minimum income benefits ensuring a life in dignity at all stages of life’.
Both the EAPN Working Document on a Framework Directive for Minimum Income and the legal expert study commissioned by EAPN – Gorjão-Henriques/Sousa Ferro/Brito Camacho (2010): An EU Directive on Adequate Minimum Income. A Legal Assessment – date from 2010. The relevant EU law has not changed since 2010. The Final Report of the EMIN 2 Project (2018) and the EAPN Position Paper on Adequate Income (2020) have put the information and proposals included in both studies in the relevant political contexts of about two years ago and of early 2020.
EAPN, however, considered it indispensable to get an independent opinion and backing for its key political demand that focuses on the relevant questions and options in EU law and considers them in the updated political landscape. The Expert Study provides sound legal analysis as well as legal and policy arguments, to make the case for our demand. It gives flesh to the acknowledged need to protect income adequacy with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The time is now for the European Commission to move from words to concrete action.