Basic income, a utopia for our times?

2016 October 1 @ 10:00 – 20:00
Catholic University of Louvain, Auditoire Montesquieu 01
Place Montesquieu
1348 Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve
Online registration is free of charge but compulsory no later than 20 september 2016.

The founding meeting of BIEN in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), 1986. From left to right on stage: Riccardo Petrella, Greetje Lubbi, Anne Miller, Nic Douben, Philippe Van Parijs, Claus Offe, Bill Jordan.

Commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the creation of BIEN (Louvain-la-Neuve, September 1986), with the participation of several founding members, including  the Collectif Charles Fourier, Annie MILLER, Claus OFFE, Gérard ROLAND, Guy STANDING, Walter VAN TRIER and Robert VAN DER VEEN.
Rencontre organisée par la Chaire Hoover et le BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) (BIEN) à l’occasion du trentième anniversaire de sa création, à Louvain-la-Neuve, en septembre 1986.
Les 4-6 septembre 1986, une cinquantaine de personnes se sont réunies à Louvain-la-Neuve pour le tout premier colloque international sur l’allocation universelle ou basic income. C’est à cette occasion que fut créé le Basic Income European Network, devenu en 2004 le Basic Income Earth Network. L’événement du 1er octobre marquera le trentième anniversaire de ce réseau aujourd’hui mondial, au service d’une utopie pour le temps présent plus actuelle que jamais.

“In September 1986, the Collectif Charles Fourier, a small group of academics and trade unionists organized in the university town of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium the first gathering of basic income supporters from across Europe. Pleasantly surprised to discover how many people were interested in an idea they thought they were almost alone in defending, the participants decided to set up the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) with the aim ‘to serve as a link between individuals and groups committed to, or interested in, basic income, i.e. an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement, and to foster informed discussion on this topic throughout Europe’. Since then BIEN has run a regular newsletter and organized a congress every second year. Owing to the growing number of participants from outside Europe, BIEN decided at its 2004 congress in Barcelona to become a worldwide network and to reinterpret its unchanged acronym as Basic Income Earth Network” (Van Parijs & Vanderborght, Basic Income. A radical proposal for a free society and a sane economy, Harvard University Press, forthcoming Spring 2017.)

In order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of BIEN, take stock and look ahead, the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics of the University of Louvain is organizing, in collaboration with BIEN, a one-day event that will take place in Louvain-la-Neuve on Saturday October 1st, 2016. This event will gather more than ten founding members of BIEN and many actors in today’s unprecedently active debate on basic income. It will follow immediately a two-day conference on Utopias for our times, jointly organized by the Metaforum of the University of Leuven and the Hoover Chair of the University of Louvain to mark the 500th anniversary of the publication, in the university town of Leuven/Louvain, of Thomas More’s Utopia, and the 25th anniversary of the Hoover Chair.


Morning (10 -13)

  • Welcome
  • Axel Gosseries, maître de recherches FNRS, professor at UCLouvain, responsable de la Chaire Hoover d’éthique économique et sociale
  • Karl Widerquist, professor at Georgetown University (Qatar), co-chair of BIEN
  • Philippe Van Parijs, professor at UCLouvain (Chaire Hoover), chair of BIEN’s International Board

10.10-10: BIEN’ improvised birth: testimonies by some co-founders

  • Paul-Marie Boulanger, co-founder of the Collectif Charles Fourier (1984-85), president of the Institut pour un développement durable
  • Annie Miller, co-founder and chair of Citizen’s Income Trust (UK)
  • Guy Standing, professor at SOAS, University of London, honorary president of BIEN
  • Claus Offe, professor emeritus at Humboldt Universität & Hertie School of Government (Berlin), honorary president of BIEN
  • Robert van der Veen, professor emeritus at the University of Amsterdam

11.15-13: Parallel sessions

(1) The history of basic income: some recent discoveries

  • Pierre-Etienne Vandamme (UCLouvain) on Voltaire before Paine
  • Guido Erreygers (Universiteit Antwerpen) on Brussels 1848
  • Walter Van Trier (University of Gent, first secretary of BIEN) on the British interbellum

(2) Basic income implemented in the short and the long run

  • Philippe Defeyt (until recently president of the Centre public d’aide sociale, Namur, co-founder of the Collectif Charles Fourier):An income-tax-funded basic income of EUR 600
  • David Rosseels (Deloitte): A micro-tax on electronic payments
  • Karl Widerquist (Georgetown University Qatar): Sovereign funds and basic income

13-14: Lunch: sandwiches for all participants

Afternoon (14-18.30)

14.00-16.00: Lessons from the Swiss referendum:

  • Nenad Stojanovic, Senior Research Fellow & Lecturer, Universität Luzern
  • Enno Schmidt, co-founder of the Swiss popular initiative on basic income

Promises and limits of past and future experiments:

  • Yannick Vanderborght, professor at USt Louis & UCLouvain, former member of BIEN’s executive: Brief overview
  • Guy Standing, professor at SOAS, University of London, honorary president of BIEN: India
  • Jurgen De Wispelaere, Research Fellow, University of Tampere/University of Bath, former member of BIEN’s executive: Finland
  • Alexander de Roo, chair of the Dutch basic income network, co-founder and former treasurer of BIEN: The Netherlands

16.30-18.30 Moving forward

  • Louise Haagh, University of York, co-chair of BIEN
  • Stanislas Jourdan, Campaign Quantitative Easing for the People, co-founder of UBI-Europe,
  • Roland Duchatelet, former senator, founder of Vivant
  • Yasmine Kherbache, member of the Flemish Parliament, former chief of cabinet of Prime Minister Di Rupo

Final reflections

  • Joshua Cohen, philosopher, professor at Apple University & UCBerkeley
  • Claus Offe, political scientist, professor emeritus at Humboldt Universität & Hertie School of Government
  • Erik O. Wright, sociologist, professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Gérard Roland, economist, professor at UCBerkeley

18.25: Eduardo Suplicy’s performance as honorary doctor of UCLouvain

18.30: Reception

Online registration is free of charge but compulsory no later than 20 september 2016.

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