Hugh Frazer Eric Marlier

Enhancing the potential contribution of minimum income schemes to a more Social Europe

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The 2008 economic and financial crisis and subsequent financial consolidation (austerity) policies have drawn attention to serious weaknesses in Social Europe and to the inadequate development of social protection policies in many countries. In particular, they have highlighted very clearly the major importance of ensuring adequate social safety nets in all countries. In 2015, with a view to assessing the state of play in the development of minimum income (MI) schemes across Europe and progress since a previous pan-European assessment in 2009, the European Commission asked the "European Social Policy Network" to conduct an in-depth comparative analysis of the MI provisions in the 28 EU Member States and in seven non-EU European countries. The paper presents the main results of this study. It analyses the key features of MI schemes in the 35 countries reviewed and suggests a grouping of the schemes in five broad «types». It then examines the effectiveness of the various MI schemes (adequacy, anti-poverty impact, coverage, take-up) and the links between the three pillars identified in the 2008 EU "Recommendation on active inclusion" (adequate MI schemes, inclusive labour markets, access to quality services). It subsequently tries to identify the most effective type(s) of MI schemes. Finally, it draws some overall conclusions and proposes policy recommendations to countries and the European Commission with a view to enhancing the potential contribution of MI schemes to a more Social Europe and to rebalancing the EU's policy framework so that social policies are given a higher priority alongside economic and employment policies.


  • Social Europe
  • Minimum Income
  • Policy Analysis
  • Poverty
  • Social Protection


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