The EESC has lent its support to the European Commission's proposal for a Council recommendation on adequate minimum income, hailing it as a necessary part of efforts to combat poverty and to achieve the EU target of reducing the number of people at risk by at least 15 million by the end of the decade.

In the opinion adopted at its plenary session in March, the EESC said it particularly welcomed the implementation of realistic and not-overly-restrictive criteria for making minimum income available to all, at a level that guarantees people a life of dignity, not leaving anyone behind.

Making sure that minimum income schemes provide sufficient resources also requires keeping them in line with inflation, which is set to rise a further 6.5% in 2023 (in the context of the rise in the costs of living sparked by recent food and energy price hikes). To this end, the EESC proposes that Member States assess minimum income levels on a yearly basis, depending on the level of inflation.

This should be monitored by civil society organisations, social partners and welfare organisations.

"Effective minimum income schemes can help to guarantee that human rights are respected, ensure that people live in dignity, help them remain active and included in society and help integrate them into good quality employment," said the rapporteur of the opinion, Jason Deguara, adding that self-employed people should also be fully entitled to the minimum income and other benefits.

Rapporteur Paul Soete said: "The target is to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty by at least 15 million by 2030. At first glance, this target does not seem very ambitious, but the guidance provided to Member States and the basis for a solid methodology certainly make it an important step forward."

Minimum income levels and composition differ considerably across welfare states in general, and this is also the case in the EU. The labour market situation of minimum income beneficiaries varies significantly across Member States.

None of the EU countries currently ensure adequate income support for jobless families to avoid poverty risks. Due to eligibility conditions, such as minimum age, residence status, homelessness or family composition issues, some 20% of jobless people are not eligible to receive any support at all.
There is also a problem of non-take-up of minimum income estimated at between 30% and 50%, to a large extent due to administrative burdens. (ll)