The European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee has adopted a report that calls for the introduction or upgrading of minimum income schemes in all member states, to reinforce the fight against poverty. AGE strongly supports this report and calls for a renewed commitment to fight poverty.
The role of minimum income schemes
Minimum income schemes are distinct from minimum wages and ideally protect citizens from falling into poverty when other schemes such as unemployment benefits do no longer fit their situation. They are particularly important to many older people, either in the transition between job-seeking and statutory retirement age, or when their pension rights are not sufficient to guarantee a decent life during retirement. This is particularly the case for many women who have not contributed enough to pension systems to open their own pension rights.
Minimum income schemes in EU policies
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has called several times for adequate minimum income schemes to be introduced in all European member states, and some Country-Specific Recommendations in the European Semester process supported this call in the past years. However, minimum income schemes often are not adequate in that they fall below the poverty line (usually defined as 60% of median income) or do not guarantee to live adequately, even if they are above national poverty thresholds. In the proposed Pillar of Social Rights, one principle also covers the access to adequate minimum income.
AGE campaign on adequate minimum income
AGE Platform Europe has frequently called for adequate minimum income schemes as part of the European Minimum Income Network (EMIN). Adequacy should be assessed both against the risk of poverty as against nationally defined reference budgets that account for different needs according to household composition, age, and different living costs in different territories.
As 2020 is coming nearer, the Europe 2020 poverty target of reducing poverty by 20 million people relative to the 2008 benchmark is, according to the Commission, unlikely to be attained. Indeed, poverty levels have only reached 2008 levels again after a rise during the crisis. What is more worrying is that while material deprivation and the rate of joblessness is declining, the at-risk-of-poverty rate (60% of median income) is still increasing: this also means that the recovery, while providing jobs, is not (yet) sufficient to reduce the share of Europeans living at risk of poverty, currently 25% of the EU population.
AGE strongly supports the report from the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and calls for a renewed commitment to the Europe 2020 target on poverty reduction, as well as a meaningful follow-up target in the 2030 strategy, which should be based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The next step for the Committee report is to be tabled in the European Parliament’s plenary for adoption.
For more information on this issue, please contact Philippe Seidel, AGE Policy and EP Liaison Officer: email@example.com