An adequate minimum income across the EU at last?

The Council adopts a recommendation on adequate minimum income. Meanwhile, the European Parliament and NGOs call for binding rules on the matter.

After a couple of months of discussions, the Council has adopted on 30 January 2023 the recommendation on an adequate minimum income published by the Commission last September.

As previsouly reported, the recommendation aims to make sure that member states offer persons lacking sufficient resources an adequate income support. To this aim, the recommendation asks member states to ensure that the level of their income support schemes is sufficiently high, that these schemes cover all people in need and that application barriers are removed.

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.

Even before the publication of the proposal by the Commission, many voices, including policymakers and NGOs, had been calling for the adoption of binding rules on the matter. This is however not the case of this recommendation, which is merely a call on member states to act in a certain way but includes no enforcement mechanisms.

The European Parliament – who was excluded from the decision-making process since this is a Council recommendation – is also pushing for the adoption of binding measures. In January the Parliament’s employment committee adopted a resolution, which should be voted in plenary next week, calling on the Commission to present a directive on this matter. Such a directive would thus legally oblige member states to make sure that their minimum income schemes are adequate and would also include a common EU-level definition of what “adequate” means.