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Strategic Dialogue – Strengthening adequate minimum income schemes in the EU

On the 28th of January 2022, EUD attended a strategic dialogue hosted by the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the European Commission. The objective of the strategic dialogue was to discuss and provide with feedback on the Commission’s forthcoming proposal for a Council Recommendation on adequate minimum income schemes in the European Union, which is in the early stages of its creation.

The aim of the proposal will be to establish a minimum income threshold that would be the same throughout the European Union. This could help to dramatically reduce the poverty and social exclusion faced by persons with disabilities and increase their participation in the labour market.

Katarina Ivankovič-Knezevič, Director for Social Rights and Inclusion at DG EMPL, presented the state of play of the planned initiative, which is based onPrinciple 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This principle focuses on providing enough resources to facilitate adequate minimum incomes, dignity at all stages of life, and sufficient access to goods and services. Mrs Ivankovič-Knezevič explained that the multifaceted purpose of the initiative includes (i) addressing the existing gaps in minimum income (MI) schemes to improve their effectiveness; (ii) modernising the current EU MI Framework to make it fit for purpose; (iii) providing guiding principles to the Member States concerning access to and coverage of the schemes, adequacy of the benefit, access to the labour market, and cooperation with social and enabling services and governance, while respecting diversity and the specificities of national systems; and (iv) adhering to the legal basis for an EU action in Article 153 TFEU, which states that the Union supports and complements the activities of the Member States.

The discussion then moved to the challenges of the initiative, which gained several responses from civil society organisations such as Caritas Europe, the European Disability Forum, and the World Blind Union, citing the need to address discrimination and move away from means-tested benefits, especially for persons with disabilities and take into account generational elements of poverty and social exclusion. EUD Policy Assistant Toju Popo raised the importance of removing barriers to accessing information and communication relating to MI schemes, especially on the local level, and the need to ensure access to reasonable accommodation for deaf persons who are entering the labour market.

The event was useful in terms of understanding the MI schemes and how the Commission seeks to help the Member States. EUD is looking forward to collaborating with the EU Commission in the context of the preparation of the proposal for a Council Recommendation on adequate minimum income in the EU.

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