EESC votes in favour of EU-supported decent minimum income

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted the opinion on "For a European Framework directive on a Minimum Income" in which it asked the European Commission to introduce a binding EU framework establishing an adequate minimum income across Europe, tailored to the standard of living in each Member State. 

Such a framework, in the form of a directive, is needed to effectively address the serious and persistent problem of poverty in Europe and to restore the EU's credibility, since the EU commitments seeking to reduce the number of EU citizens at risk of poverty by 20 million have by and large failed, the EESC said.

"The issue of a minimum income is highly political. This is a decision to be made at EU level, and the Commission cannot hide behind the principle of subsidiarity – misused in this case – to decide that it cannot do anything about such an important problem that affects dignity and human rights", said Georges Dassis, rapporteur of the opinion.

"It is important for the EU to do something concrete for people who have nothing. If you are indifferent to their misery now, tomorrow might be too late", Mr Dassis said.

Opposing the proposed use of a binding instrument, the EESC's Employers Group tabled a counter opinion in which its members argued that the minimum income should be tackled at national level.

The counter opinion was rejected and Mr Dassis's own-initiative opinion was adopted with 158 votes in favour, 81 against and 12 abstentions. (ll)