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Social Justice Ireland calls for EU-wide Basic Income system

Social Justice Ireland has called for the introduction of an EU-wide Basic Income system.  Speaking at a consultation on the Future of Europe conducted by the European Economic and Social Committee, Seán Healy, Director, Social Justice Ireland, stated that confidence in the EU is being eroded steadily because of a number of failures in the areas of social policy, environmental protection and governance. It needed to be seen as a Union that cared for all its people. Introducing a transnational and interpersonal redistribution scheme would be a major step in the correct direction.

The EU needs to become, and be seen to become, a caring Union.  That won’t be achieved by multiplying directives and regulations that are seen as simply interfering with the autonomy of national governments and parliaments.  I suggest that what it needs is a number of initiatives that would clearly show its caring dimension.  One such initiative would be to set up a scheme of transnational and interpersonal redistribution.  Such a Transfer Union is needed for four reasons[1]:

  • To provide a macroeconomic stabilizer essential to the survival of the euro.
  • To provide a demographic stabiliser essential to the political survival of Schengen;
  • To provide a firm common floor essential to protect the generosity and diversity of our national welfare states against tax and social competition;
  • To make it crystal clear to the vulnerable that the EU cares for them too and not just for the wealthy and powerful.

Radical?  Yes. But this proposal is no more radical than what Bismarck did when, under the pressure of violent protests, he created the world’s first national social security scheme.  A similar radical initiative is required today. 

The full text of Social Justice Ireland's comments may be accessed here.

[1] Cf. Philippe van Parijs, Social Europe, 24 May, 2017, for more detail.