OPEN LETTER to the EU Council, the European Commission and the European Central Bank
For millions across Europe, steps taken by the authorities to contain the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic mean the partial or total loss of their income. Only one instrument can immediately guarantee that no one’s economic security and existence is threatened: Basic Income.
Within a few weeks, over 170.000 European citizens signed a petition calling on EU leaders to create a financial capacity to support the quick introduction of an Unconditional Basic Income as an urgent measure in all Member States.
Addressing the virus has required slowing down or stopping social and economic activities everywhere in Europe. For many businesses this means an immediate drop of income and the inability to pay their workforce and contractors. Parents need to reduce paid work time or to work from home due to closed schools. Countless freelancers, as well as employees losing their jobs or part of their salaries, do not know how they are going to pay their bills.
Millions of Europeans are at risk of falling through social safety nets and into poverty.
In this situation, we need an immediate and coordinated European effort to ensure that all Member States can protect their economies and their citizens. If the European Union fails to act in direct solidarity with all its citizens in this situation, it will suffer severe and possibly irreparable damage to its legitimacy.
The various relief measures enacted by EU governments are important and welcome, but none of them guarantees that everyone in need is covered and they all put an additional burden on already stressed public administrations. What governments can offer to their citizens differs a lot from country to country. But especially in times of crisis, we cannot afford gaps in safety nets and non-take up due to administrative burdens and undignified bureaucratic procedures.
Therefore, we need to establish a financial capacity to support all EU countries in introducing an Unconditional Basic Income – a periodical payment to all on an individual basis, without means tests or work requirements. The system is easy, quick to introduce and requires minimum bureaucracy compared to other income support measures.
After the restrictive measures are lifted, Unconditional Basic Income will also provide a stimulus to kickstart essential sectors of the economy. Otherwise economic disparities and social imbalances evident during the Euro crisis will severely worsen in the next few months.
Since the last major crisis in 2008, the EU has pumped trillions of Euros into the failing financial sector without achieving any discernible impact on the real economy, and in fact deepening inequality. Now it is time to support the people directly.
- The Board of Unconditional Basic Income Europe: Alessandra Bianchi, Dániel Fehér, Vladan Lausevic, Leire Rincón, Ulrich Schachtschneider