Minimum income schemes can lift people out of poverty, according to a consensus reached by the European Parliament’s Employment Committee.
While most EU countries already have minimum income schemes, few provide adequate support for those in need. As such, the MEPs called on all EU members to introduce a minimum income and, if necessary, upgrade existing schemes.
More specifically, the committee proposed to set minimum income using the Eurostat at-risk-of-poverty threshold and other indicators. The MEPs also said member states must try to reverse the low rate take-up among those eligible by raising awareness.
According to a European Parliament press release, almost 120m people in the EU (25% of the EU’s population) are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Children, women, the unemployed, single-parent households and people with disabilities are considered especially vulnerable groups.
The MEPs said minimum income schemes should combine financial support with easier access to social and public services like housing, healthcare, education and training. And those who can work should get assistance in gaining access to the labour market.
“Today we do not want only to spark a debate on the issue, but also to oblige the Commission to take a firm stand on it,” said Rapporteur Laura Agea (EFDD, IT). “Poverty and social exclusion do not belong to individual member states, but reflect the state of Europe, which needs to provide answers to this emergency. We propose a twin-track approach: firstly, to curb the social impact of the crisis and secondly, to encourage active employment policies.”
The resolution, which was passed by the committee with 36 votes to 7, with 4 abstentions, will be put to a vote in the plenary next month.