Since the outbreak of the economic crisis in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and despite the economic recovery seen in recent years, the poverty rate has continued to increase for the long-term unemployed and the working poor.
EU texts and commitments – such as the Europe 2020 strategy, which sought to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty by 20 million – are yet to deliver the expected results. Applying the principle of subsidiarity, with the open method of coordination (OMC) as its only mechanism, is therefore not sufficient to achieve the objectives set.
Introducing a binding European framework for a decent minimum income in Europe, enabling minimum income schemes in the Member States to be extended across the board, supported and made "decent" (adequate), would therefore be a significant initial European response to the serious and persistent problem of poverty in Europe.
It could take the form of a directive defining a reference framework for the establishment of an adequate minimum income, tailored to the standard of living and way of life of each country and taking account of social redistribution, taxation and standard of living factors based on a reference budget whose methodology would be determined at European level.
The question of introducing a decent minimum income guaranteed by the EU is highly political. Those who champion the use of EU legislation here find this legal basis in Article 153(1)(c) and (h) TFEU.
In its first opinion on this topic (OJ C 170, 05.06.2014, p. 23-31), the EESC asked the Commission to examine funding possibilities for a European minimum income, focusing in particular on the prospect of setting up an appropriate European fund. As the Commission did not respond to that request, the Committee believes it is worth repeating.