The German Permanent Secretary of State for Labour and Social Affairs, Rolf Schmachtenberg, yesterday called for the EU-27 to pool their social protection policy, in order to improve its reception and cover the shortcomings of the European labour market. And the representatives of Spain and Belgium (which will hold the next rotating presidency of the EU) showed their support for the idea. Spain, Germany, Belgium and the EU are committed to promoting minimum incomes so that they reach “everyone who needs them”. This is stated in the ‘Aranjuez Declaration’, a document that includes the conclusions of the Conference on Minimum Income and Social Inclusion Policies in the Framework of European Social Protection, held yesterday Monday in Aranjuez, within the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the EU.
Germany has had the ‘Universal Basic Income’ (Bürgergeld) for just over a year, which replaced the ‘Basic Income Benefit’ (Grundsicherung). It ranges from 502 euros to 318 euros, depending on the age and situation of the claimant. It is designed to encourage beneficiaries to actively seek employment by granting a two-year ‘grace period’ during which the benefit covers their housing and heating costs. It also allows 30% of the benefit to be retained if they earn less than €1,000.
The social protection systems of the EU-27 differ in some respects, so that not all countries have a benefit like the Spanish Ingreso Mínimo Vital. However, some countries – including Germany – argue that common minimums should be established, and even advocate the development of a minimum income directive that would set minimum standards.
The informal working group promoted by Spain and Belgium, which will hold the rotating presidency from January onwards, has been working for months on minimum incomes in the framework of public investments that they want to protect against the new tax rules. However, sources close to the negotiators suggest that the minimum income directive is not on the table for the time being, but that it responds to an individual position of the German representative.