By Damon Mitchell • 11 May 2020 • 15:36
PORTUGUESE government ministers are calling for the creation of a European minimum income system and calling for solidarity with Spanish and Italian ministers to form a plan to minimise the crisis caused by Covid-19.
The proposal comes as a joint agreement signed by the Portuguese Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, the Vice-President of the Spanish government, Minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, Pablo Iglesias, and the Italian Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Nunzia Catalfo.
“We have to ensure that all people are guaranteed the satisfaction of their basic needs, so we need a common minimum income system to combat poverty and social exclusion from an ambitious and integrated perspective,” the leaders said in the article entitled ‘Towards a European minimum income.’
The three signatories to the agreement said that the EU needs a common minimum income framework, which is not limited to survival levels or to the poverty ratio calculated on the basis of the average European income, but which is rather a legally binding framework, enabling all Member States to establish a minimum income that is adequate and adapted to each country’s standard of living and way of life. They also stressed that Europe is currently facing the “greatest challenge since the Second World War”: to fight the Covid-19 pandemic by saving as many lives as possible.
The social and economic impacts of this crisis, they write, are beginning to be felt at national and European level, with a particular focus on the labour market, with profound impacts on citizens’ lives.
“Today Europe has more than 113 million people at risk of poverty and social exclusion and 25 million children living below the poverty line. We must take urgent measures to avoid increasing this number and instead contribute to reducing it,” they say.
“Europe must unite around solidarity. A coordinated European response is needed to avoid a new economic and social crisis like the one we experienced after the 2008 crisis,” they said in the proposal.
As a political and legislative framework, the article highlights the European pillar of social rights, adopted in 2017 by the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission during the Social Summit in Gothenburg. In Principle 14 of that document, governments recall, it states that anyone who does not have sufficient resources is entitled to adequate minimum income benefits that guarantee a decent standard of living at all stages of life, as well as effective access to supporting goods and services. For those able to work, minimum income benefits should be combined with incentives to (re-)integrate into the labour market.
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