Eurodividend: A partial basic income paid to all Europeans

Europe is in deep trouble – economically, socially, and politically. We need new, bolder and stronger instruments to counter the forces of disintegration. A partial basic income paid to all Europeans – a Eurodividend – could become the policy instrument that safeguards the EU and especially the Eurozone from asymetric economic shocks and reconciles citizens with the idea of European integration.

Today, the risk of poverty and social exclusion levels in the EU and in particular the precarity of young people, child poverty and in-work poverty are extremely worrying whilst the prospects of the EU’s 2020 poverty target (i.e. to lift 20 million people out of poverty by 2020) look rather dim. Moreover, unemployment levels remain very high and particularly affect young people whereas the technological and digital revolution is affecting employment in various aspects, through the replacement of a great amount of jobs, the reorganisation of the workplace and the increase of the gap between productivity gains and income earned by workers. Finally, in the Eurozone, the introduction of the euro has produced increasing economic divergence between deficit and surplus countries (in terms of GDP per capita, labour productivity or unemployment levels among others) as well as important social imbalances in terms of public investment in education, healthcare, or social security.

Many citizens who feel let down by mainstream policies with such disastrous results turn towards populist, nationalist parties that promise relief at the cost of European solidarity. All this threatens the European project, the viability of the monetary union and, most importantly, it affects directly the life of millions of Europeans who struggle to live a decent life.

For all these reasons, UBIE considers that a modest income floor in the form of a European partial basic income granted unconditionally to all EU citizens and legal long-term residents would provide a smart way to tackle the three social priorities mentioned:

  1. reduce poverty and income inequalities by guaranteeing basic income security,
  2. provide a complementary replacement income to that of national welfare programmes for unemployed people, and
  3. reduce excessive economic and social imbalances between Eurozone countries thanks to its automatic stabilizing effect.

Such a Eurodividend is a modest income floor averaging 200 euro per month (depending on the funding scheme and whether it is adjusted to the cost of living). It would be distributed to all adult residents of the EU member states on an individual basis and without means testing or work requirements.

A Eurodividend is not meant to replace national minimum income schemes. Instead, it provides a cushion over which EU member states are able to pursue their own welfare arrangements to ensure a decent life for all their citizens. The introduction of a Eurodividend aims at the development of a fair, stable and efficient European social model as it embodies a European commitment to social citizenship with “a policy that is ‘European’ in scope and substance, transparent and simple to administer”.*

Indeed, the Eurodividend would provide a fair redistributive mechanism to ensure that all Europeans equally benefit from the wealth generated by European integration:

  • It would considerably improve the condition of the worst-off European citizens, who would access a complementary European unconditional income without any administrative obstacles or risk of social stigma, ameliorating as a result the EU’s objective of poverty alleviation and reduction of social exclusion.
  • It would provide a mechanism of solidarity in the form of transnational fiscal transfers necessary for the Eurozone to absorb asymmetric economic shocks and reduce the pressures exerted on European welfare states due to economic and social imbalances.
  • An added benefit could also be a significant reduction of the push factors for migration within the EU, avoiding thus the negative effect of “brain drains” in certain countries.
  • Last but not least, this would certainly have a beneficial effect on the EU’s legitimacy and popular support as it would develop help develop the tangible image of a “caring union”.

The funding of a Eurodividend could be based on a combination of the following levies: a European VAT, a European corporate income tax, a European carbon tax, a European financial transaction tax, a European tax on luxury goods, a reallocation of (part of) European funds such as the European Social Fund or the budget devoted to the Common Agricultural Policy for example, or an increase of member states’ contributions to the EU budget.

What matters is that its funding depend on the EU’s own resources to establish a clear link between EU’s budget and its benefits for European citizens.

UBIE has recently argued in favour of the Eurodividend in its contribution to the public consultation organised by the European Commission on the European pillar of social rights. It is committed to further investigate the idea and will now organise expert workshops to elaborate on macro-economic effects, administrative capacities and funding opportunities. Last but not least, UBIE intends to push the idea forward within European cenacles but also in wider public debates in order to develop a more social Europe, following a ‘bottom-up’ approach aiming at a thicker transnational civil society.

*) Schmitter, P. C. & Bauer, M. W. ‘A (Modest) Proposal for Expanding Social Citizenship in the European Union’, Journal of European Social Policy, 2001, vol. 11, no.5, pp. 55-65, p. 57.

ECB should design, decide and implement the helicopter money programme

Instead of injecting the equivalent of €2.2 trillion into financial markets, the ECB could have injected a quarter as much money and distributed €1,000 to all adult citizens in the eurozone.

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament recently launched “Leer Geld”, an initiative led by MEP Sander Loones, to raise awareness about the effects of the monetary policy conducted by the European Central Bank (ECB).
The initiative is to be welcomed: monetary policy is too often overlooked by civil society, yet its impact on our lives has never been greater. Under its “quantitative easing” programme (QE), the ECB has been buying large quantities of government bonds since 2015. Surely injecting the equivalent of 20 percent of GDP into the eurozone finance sector cannot be without consequences. Continue reading “ECB should design, decide and implement the helicopter money programme”

QE for People’s 10 steps forward in 2016

2016 was marked with a series of successes in challenging the ECB’s strategy and bringing the discussion on monetary policy forward. Please find below 10 of the achievements we are most proud of.

1. We organised a conference at the European Parliament

In February we hosted a very successful and well-attended conference at the European Parliament thanks to key supporting MEPs Molly Scott-Cato, Fabio de Masi and Paul Tang. The conference was an important step to establish the campaign’s credibility within the EU. Check out the highlights from the event here. 

2. The European Parliament published a report on helicopter money

In April, the European Parliament’s research service dedicated a special policy report on the concept of ‘helicopter money’. The report mentions our work and is broadly positive.

3. A great event in Paris

We also started to build a national coalition in France, and raised our profile by organising a public conference on May 31st in Paris. Key supporters of the campaign presented different proposals for QE for People. The conference was well covered in the French media. Check out the highlights here.

4. 18 MEPs signed an open letter to the ECB

In June, we convinced 18 MEPs to sign a joint letter to Mario Draghi, asking the ECB to “dedicate significant expertise and resources to studying the viability and implementation of innovative policies”. The letter was covered by the Financial Times.

5. We demonstrated the feasibility of QE for People

In September we intensified our lobbying activities in Brussels. In order to convince more MEPs about the need for QE for People, we produced a policy briefing which summarizes how and why the ECB could distribute money directly to citizens. The report is one of the few papers which clearly shows why (and how) the measure would be legal.

6. The vast majority of the population would support QE for People

In October, a European-wide survey evaluated whether people would support the ECB for distributing money directly to individuals. The results showed that 54% would be in favour, with only 14% against. The survey also evaluates how people would spend the money.

7. The European Parliament criticized QE for the first time

In November, the European Parliament adopted its annual resolution on the ECB. In contrast to previous years, for the first time the parliament expressed important concerns on quantitative easing, especially on its lack of effectiveness and its undesired side-effects.

8. The ECB itself admitted QE for People would be legal

In December, the ECB itself came out with a public letter which broadly supports our view. The ECB said ‘helicopter money’ is legal, if it is designed within the monetary policy framework. This is probably the most insightful statement the ECB has ever made on this topic, which shows they are actually thinking about it!

9. We exposed the ECB’s support for climate change industry

We partnered with Corporate Europe Observatory to scrutinize the ECB’s corporate bonds purchases and found out that the ECB is indeed fueling polluting industries that are far away from the EU’s anti-climate change commitments. The report was mentioned in the Guardian and lots of other national media. Following up on this, Green MEPs decided to write a letter to the ECB.

10. We established a public-interest voice on monetary policy

In Europe list elsewhere, the debate one monetary policy is mostly dominated by the financial sector. We are the only European voice representing civil society in monetary policy issues. About 10,000 people are following the campaign. We are doing our best to make your voice heard!

2016 was incredibly busy and fruitful. Looking forward, 2017 looks even more exciting and promising. Yet new opportunities are emerging and more visible actions are becoming possible thanks to our growing list of supporters. Take part and join us!

Original post by Stan Jourdan on http://www.qe4people.eu/what_we_achieved_in_2016

ECB confirms ‘Helicopter Money’ is Legally Feasible under Conditions

Mario Draghi first discussed the notion of ‘helicopter money’ in March 2016, saying “it is an interesting concept.” Since then however, the head of the European Central Bank repeatedly stated that the idea that central banks could distribute money directly to citizens, was fraught with accounting-wise, technical and legal complexity.” However the ECB had declined at several occasion to specify in detail which were the foreseen legal obstacles.

In a letter dated 29 November to Spanish MEP Jonas Fernandez, the ECB finally provides clarifications. And our interpretation of the letter lead to the conclusion that those legal issues are very weak and solvable.

The QE for People campaign praises the ECB for finally providing this legal clarification. “By providing a detailed answer on this point, the ECB acknowledges its understanding of our proposal, which many economists say could bring significant benefits to the economy” said Stan Jourdan, QE for People campaign coordinator.

Helicopter money must be designed as monetary policy

Continue reading “ECB confirms ‘Helicopter Money’ is Legally Feasible under Conditions”

MEPs call on Mario Draghi to consider helicopter money

Eighteen members of the European Parliament have signed an open letter to the Head of the European Central Bank, emphasizing the need to consider “helicopter money” — a proposal to distribute money directly to people as a citizens’ dividend.

Some advocates argue that a basic income should be financed by “helicopter money” — the printing of new money by central banks for direct distribution to individuals. To be sure, the policy is contested, even among basic income supporters. Many suggest redistributive policies to fund a basic income, as opposed to the creation of new money, and some have vocally opposed helicopter money. Continue reading “MEPs call on Mario Draghi to consider helicopter money”

Helicopter money or European Unconditional Citizens Income?

Somewhere in March 2015, the European Central Bank (ECB) launched its long-awaited programme of quantitative easing (or QE), adding lots of public debt to the private kind it has already been buying. Its monthly purchases will rise from around €13 billion ($14 billion) to €60 billion until at least September 2016. The ECB is just the latest central bank to jump on board the QE bandwagon. Most rich-economy central bankers began printing money to buy assets during the Great Recession, and a few, like the Bank of Japan, are still at it. But what exactly is quantitative easing, and how is it supposed to work? Continue reading “Helicopter money or European Unconditional Citizens Income?”

Can helicopter money kick start the Eurozone?

With Eurozone growth still sluggish, should the European Central Bank (ECB) consider a radical option – like helicopter money?

ING senior economist Teunis Brosens explains, in this eZonomics video, that the ECB has already employed quantitative easing[1] and lowered interest rates below zero. But how effective these measures will be is unclear, he says.

Continue reading “Can helicopter money kick start the Eurozone?”

What is helicopter money?

Helicopter money is a reference to an idea made popular by the American economist Milton Friedman in 1969.

In the now famous paper “The Optimum Quantity of Money”, Friedman included the following parable:

Let us suppose now that one day a helicopter flies over this community and drops an additional $1,000 in bills from the sky, which is, of course, hastily collected by members of the community. Let us suppose further that everyone is convinced that this is a unique event which will never be repeated.”

The basic principle is that if a central bank wants to raise inflation and output in an economy that is running substantially below potential, one of the most effective tools would be simply to give everyone direct money transfers. In theory, people would see this as a permanent one-off expansion of the amount of money in circulation and would then start to spend more freely, increasing broader economic activity and pushing inflation back up to the central bank’s target. Continue reading “What is helicopter money?”

Van Parijs: An unconditional basic income in Europe will help end the crisis

In an interview given after the conference on the “Unconditional Basic Income” (UBI) organised in the European Economic and Social Committee, Phillippe Van Parijs argued that the EU should put in place such a basic income for all of its citizens, to help it escape the crisis, and to show that it is a community that “cares” for all its members.

Philippe Van Parijs is a Belgian philosopher and professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL). He talked to EurActiv’s Tanja Milevska. Continue reading “Van Parijs: An unconditional basic income in Europe will help end the crisis”

The Euro Dividend by Philippe van Parijs

Criticizing is easy. Making proposals is harder. Here is one, simple and radical, yet — I shall argue — reasonable and urgent.

Euro-dividend is how I shall call it. It consists of paying a modest basic income to every legal resident of the European Union, or at least of the subset of member states that either have adopted the Euro or are committed to doing so soon. This income provides each resident with a universal and unconditional floor that can be supplemented at will by labour income, capital income and social benefits. Its level can vary from country to country to track the cost of living, and it can be lower for the young and higher for the elderly. It is to be financed by the Value Added Tax. To fund a Euro-dividend averaging 200 Euros per month for all EU residents, one needs to tax the EU’s harmonized VAT base at a rate of about 20%, which amounts to close to 10% of the EU’s GDP. Continue reading “The Euro Dividend by Philippe van Parijs”