Commission publishes recommendation on adequate minimum income

Member States should ensure adequate, inclusive and widespread minimum income schemes

Almost 100 million people in the EU were at risk of poverty or social exclusion[1] in 2021, recent Eurostat data shows. This represents more than one in five people in the EU. The risk of poverty or social exclusion varies across member states, with the highest shares recorded in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Spain. Unsurprisingly, women, young adults, less educated people and unemployed people are particularly at risk.

In this context and following a series of commitments taken at EU level[2], the European Commission published a proposal for a recommendation on adequate minimum income in September 2022. This new tool aims to support member states in improving their national minimum income schemes.[3]

To reach this goal, member states are required to make sure by the end of 2030 that their income support are adequate to guarantee life in dignity. The level of these income support should therefore be defined and regularly updated using a transparent methodology which takes into account certain criteria (such as the cost of living) and it should be equivalent to certain national reference values (such as the national level of at-risk-poverty).

Secondly, all persons lacking sufficient resources should be covered by these minimum income schemes, which requires member states to define non-discriminatory eligibility criteria to access these benefits.

Thirdly, simplified application procedures, reduced administrative barriers and more accessible information should ensure that all potential recipients take up these benefits.

Other provisions aim to make sure that the beneficiaries become sufficient incentives and support to (re)enter the labour market, that they have access to essential and enabling services such as healthcare, childcare, energy, and transport and that they receive individualized support timely.

The recommendation undoubtedly represents another major piece of legislation in the social field after the recently adopted adequate minimum wages directive.

It is however questionable whether the legal act chosen (a recommendation) will have the expected impact as, contrary to other EU acts such as regulations, directives and decisions, recommendations have no binding force. This means that the Commission can and will monitor the implementation of this recommendation but there will be no sanctions for not compliant member states.

Before that, the recommendation must first be formally adopted by member states’ governments within the Council.


[1] This measure corresponds to the sum of persons who are at risk of poverty (whose income is below 60% of the national median income) or face severe material and social deprivation or live in a household with very low work intensity.

[2] Let us only mention here the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017, whose article 14 states that “everyone lacking sufficient resources has the right to adequate minimum income benefits ensuring a life in dignity”.

[3] Minimum income exist in all EU member states under different names. They can be defined as monetary benefits of last resort that are granted when other sources of income have been exhausted or are not adequate to ensure a life in dignity.