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Parliamentary questions
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20 September 2017
E-005032/2017(ASW)
Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-005032/2017

The European Pillar of Social Rights includes a principle on minimum income concerning the right to minimum benefits sufficient to live a life in dignity, for those who otherwise lack the resources. These benefits should be combined with incentives to return to work, for those able to do so.

The Commission promotes and supports Member States efforts to ensure adequacy and coverage of minimum income schemes, through analysis and policy recommendations under the European Semester; as well as through coordination, sharing of best practices and benchmarking. Indeed the Commission, in line with the active inclusion approach, supports minimum income rather than universal income schemes. 

A universal basic income (UBI) is a cash payment made unconditional to each citizen, in addition to any income received from other sources. It differs from a Generalised Minimum Income scheme in that it is not means-tested or dependent on other work-related criteria.

As of today, no European country has instituted a UBI scheme, therefore many questions remain unanswered as regards the implementation of a UBI, and in particular the appropriate amount of the benefit, the interaction with other aspects of the tax and benefit system, its impact on consumption, growth, and employment, as well as the potential fiscal cost.

The Commission is aware of pilot UBI-inspired schemes currently in operation in numerous jurisdictions, notably in Finland, and will continue to monitor their progress(1).

(1)The pilot scheme currently in operation in Finland is a guaranteed basic income scheme targeting the unemployed (kela.fi/basicincome). This scheme will help to assess whether benefit conditionality constitutes a disincentive to job search and return to employment. The pilot scheme is more narrow in scope than a UBI.

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