Council Recommendation on Minimum Income – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

Council Recommendation on Minimum Income – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

On 28 September 2022, the European Commission proposed a Council Recommendation on Adequate Minimum Income, aimed at making minimum income schemes more effective at lifting people out of poverty, while promoting the labour market integration of those who can work. It is accompanied by a Communication on better assessing the distributional impact of Member States’ policies and providing guidance on how these can be better targeted to address existing inequalities.

ERGO Network has closely engaged with the run-up to these initiatives. In 2021, we prepared a comprehensive research report on Roma access to adequate minimum income schemes in five countries. In 2022, we responded to the European Commission call for evidence on this Council Recommendation. We equally provided input to the similar call for evidence on distributional impact assessments. We have subsequently reviewed the proposed Council Recommendation on Minimum Income and accompanying Communication on distributional impact in light of the key messages of our own positions.

  • Read our full response here!

Overall, we welcome the Council Recommendation as a significant step forward in strengthening the adequacy, availability, coverage, and take-up of minimum income schemes in the European Union. Thirty years after the previous Council Recommendation of 1992 on sufficient resources for a life in dignity for all EU citizens (which the current proposal replaces), it was high-time that the coordinated access was undertaken by Member States to address existing gaps in provision and access inequalities and to ensure dignified lives and wellbeing for all.

We equally welcome the accompanying Communication and efforts to conduct more and better impact assessments of distributional policies, both by Member States and the European Commission, in order to capture the impact of reforms and investments on the income levels of the population, particularly the most disadvantaged. The document acknowledges that income inequalities undermine European values as well as endanger economic growth, echoing concerns expressed by over 80% Europeans even before the pandemic.

We further appreciate that the Council Recommendation includes explicit references to Europe’s Roma and the multiple disadvantages they face when trying to access their minimum income entitlements, as well as puts forward positive proposals to combat them. Additionally, the document makes the link to the EU Roma Framework on Equality, Inclusion and Participation and the related Council Recommendation. Disappointingly, the same does not hold true for the accompanying Communication.

ERGO Network had called for an explicit end to the culture of blaming benefit claimants as abusers of the welfare state, as well as for widespread antigypsyism to be combatted in all aspects of daily life. Sadly, this call was insufficiently heeded by the Council Recommendation, and we find it a missed opportunity that discrimination (on all and any grounds) is not listed as one of the main challenges described. There is nothing about discrimination in the Communication, and no mentions of racism or antigypsyism or the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan in either of the two documents.

ERGO Network expresses its hope that these gaps will be remedied through implementation, lest Europe’s Roma be left behind once more, and stands ready to support these efforts at both EU and national level.

For more information about our work on minimum income, please contact Amana Ferro (a.ferro@ergonetwork.org), Senior Policy Adviser with the ERGO Network staff team.

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Council Recommendation on Minimum Income – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma? – ERGO Network

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