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Basic Income and the EU

More than 285,000 people call on EU to consider Basic Income

285,042 EU citizens have called on the European Commission to consider a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a fairer and simpler social security system.  Each of these citizens signed The European Citizens Initiative (ECI)1 for Unconditional Basic Income (UBI).2 The collection of signatures officially ended on Tuesday January 14th 23.59pm.  

The organisers had hoped to collect one million signatures which would have ensured that the European Commission would have to consider the proposal being made.  

Klaus Sambor (Austria), general organiser of the European committee which coordinated this initiative in 28 European countries said: “We would like to thank every single supporter who signed our initiative or promoted it”.

Six of Ireland’s 12 MEPs supported this petition having been asked to do so by Social Justice Ireland. They were:

  • Liam Aylward
  • Nessa Childers
  • Emer Costello
  • Brian Crowley
  • Pat the Cope Gallagher
  • Sean Kelly

Social Justice Ireland is a long-time advocate of a Universal Basic Income.

Last minute surge
In recent weeks there had been a huge surge of support. In Bulgaria alone 30,000 signatures were collected in the last 5 days, thanks to an impressive last-minute push by Bulgaria’s leading trade union CITUB. “The case of Bulgaria reflects an overall intensification of interest in basic income leading to coverage in leading European media,” Martin Jordo (press officer, Sweden) said. He pointed out that Le Monde, BBC, El Mundo, Huffington Post, Al-Jazeera, RT’s Keiser Report, Portuguese and Bulgarian TV recently carried reports about unconditional basic income and this European Citizens Initiative for it.

While the official objective was not achieved, there are many reasons these supporters of a fairer and simpler social security system are happy. “This ECI is only the start of a European movement towards an EU-wide basic income,” said Sambor. New groups were formed in many countries to support this campaign, and existing UBI networks were strengthened by it. Ireland link

“The momentum generated this year will carry on in 2014 to promote unconditional basic income,” affirmed Stanislas Jourdan, organiser of the ECI campaign in France. A new pan-European network has now formed to pursue the same objective - to promote the practicality and benefits of implementing UBI throughout Europe.

ECI process ‘too cumbersome’

The organisers’ experience of promoting this European Citizens Initiative has led them to the conclusion that process designed by the EU is far too cumbersome involving far too complicated and unnecessary regulations.

Plans for the future
To show the popularity of the basic income concept and to challenge the shortcomings of the ECI collection system, organisers have now launched an online petition in collaboration with Avaaz.org, the leading political petition site in the world. This can be found at:
http://www.avaaz.org/our chance to end poverty PR.  Readers are invited to sign this petition.

Further actions will be announced on the website for the Initiative: www.basicincome2013.eu and the corresponding Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ECI.BasicIncome.

Further information on Basic Income is available at Basic Income Ireland's website here.

The website of BIEN, the World Network on Basic Income, contains much information on Basic Income.

Explanatory notes:

1) The European Citizens Initiative was set up by the Lisbon Treaty as a vehicle for giving ordinary people more of a voice at the European Commission. Each one has to collect one million verified names, addresses, and depending on the country, birthdays or National identification numbers, with at least seven countries reaching their quota of signatures set by the EC. After making an application to EC to do an ECI, the start date is set on the date the ECI is accepted by the EC, regardless of whether the complicated online collection system needed for each one has been sorted out and approved for use by the EC and verification authorities in each nation. Even paper forms were not available until the online system was sorted out. In the case of the ECI for Unconditional Basic Income, this process took over two months after the official start date.

2) Unconditional basic income is a regular, universal payment to everyone - as an individual right, without a means test or the obligation to work or perform other services in return, and high enough to ensure an existence in dignity and participation in society. Supporters often cite simplicity, lack of social stigma and greater income equality in favour of UBI. Several pilot studies of the policy around the world have confirmed that UBI results in higher levels of economic activity, better nutrition and other health outcomes, and increased participation in education and community activities where it has been tried.

3) The collation and official verification of all online signatures and those on paper will not be completed until mid-February.