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In strategies to exit poverty and exclusion, minimum income features as a key element. Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), the EU's blueprint for a more social Europe, states that the right to adequate minimum income should belong to everyone lacking sufficient resources for living a life in dignity. Following the Covid-19 crisis, the number of people living at risk of poverty and social exclusion rose, amounting to over 95.4 million Europeans in 2021. Repercussions of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will increase their number even further. Although all Member States have social safety nets, including minimum income, in place, the progress in making them adequate has been uneven across Europe. The Recommendation aims at combatting poverty and social exclusion by promoting adequate income support and minimum income in particular.
The Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship has adopted an opinion on the Recommendation on minimum income. In the opinion, the European Economic and Social Committee:
welcomes the recommendation, especially the establishment of realistic and sufficient criteria for the level and accessibility of minimum income, its legal guarantee, and a reporting system. The methodology for setting the level of minimum income benefits should take into account different income sources and specific household situations;
suggests that the approach to minimum income should be rights-based, without overly restrictive criteria and accurately measured for effectiveness. The minimum income schemes should include both cash and in-kind services, with transparent and non-discriminatory access criteria. Special attention should be given to vulnerable groups, self-employed people and to ensuring adequate pension systems;
believes that minimum income schemes should be part of national strategies to combat poverty, which integrate measures to achieve fair wages, decent work, and access to affordable and good quality essential services. Member States should assess minimum income levels regularly, with the support of CSOs, social partners, and welfare organisations, and ensure that the minimum income is in line with inflation.