COVID-19 has made it necessary for the European Union and its citizens to take a fresh look at their way of doing things and their outlook on life. The worsening economic and social crisis is evidence that European and national institutions cannot be held to the stratagems previously employed to resolve the debt problems of central governments, households and companies
On 17 September 2020, Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Francisco Guerreiro of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
In the midst of discussions on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the firming-up of Recovery Fund amounts and percentages, has “the Commission considered the possibility of direct payments to European citizens in response to the crisis, as a means of getting round the inefficiencies of indirect support payments through credit institutions or national governments?” MEP Guerreiro asked the Commission. He went on further “would it be willing to make adjustments to a number of MFF or Recovery Fund programmes in order to launch a pilot project for the introduction of unconditional basic income in the Member States?”
On 23 November, Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, he stated that “the Commission is committed to support policies protecting people from falling into poverty, in particular, those in vulnerable situations”.
Commissioner Schmit explained that “following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission has put forward several measures to help Member States to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the crisis, including support for short-term employment schemes under the European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) and the Coronavirus Recovery Investment Initiatives, which provide for continued income for workers during the pandemic.” He clarified that “in line with the Treaties, Member States define the fundamental principles of their social protection systems, including income support schemes” and “all Member States have in place so-called minimum income schemes, which provide a safety net of last resort”.
Commissioner Schmit, further underlined that “the Commission promotes the right to adequate minimum income benefits through the European Pillar of Social Rights, monitors the national systems in the European Semester and facilitates mutual learning to support upward convergence”. He also reported that “while currently no universal basic income (UBI), with unconditional allowances for all citizens, exists in any of the Member States, there have been a number of small scale and short-term experiments in some countries” and added that “the Commission follows with interest the international debate on UBI, but does not plan concrete initiatives on the issue”.
In ending, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, declared that “the Commission will assess national recovery and resilience plans, including on social protection measures, according to the criteria set out in the regulation for the Recovery and Resilience Facility (currently in the legislative process) and the guidance published on 17 September 2020”.
Photo Credit : https://www.asd-europe.org/covid-19-asd-calls-for-specific-support-to-entire-civil-aviation-sector-beyond-general-support-to