Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Towards a minimum income scheme for cross-border jobseekers?

Whilst free movement is a cornerstone of the European single market, social security coordination contributes to making it a social project at its core. A revision of relevant legislation is now on the way, and an EU project is seizing this opportunity to present arguments in favour of a European Minimum Income Scheme.
Towards a minimum income scheme for cross-border jobseekers?
The EU plan for revising social security coordination is twofold. First, facilitate free movement of workers and better protect their rights. Then, provide national authorities with stronger means to fight fraud and abuse.

Under the new proposal, unemployment benefits from the country of origin will be extended to a minimum period of six months, clearer rules regarding which country should pay frontier workers will be set, and Member States will be able to require workers to have been active for at least three months on their territory before claiming benefits from work experience in other countries. Moreover, the text provides a better definition of long-term benefits, the possibility for Member States to decide not to grant social benefits to mobile yet economically inactive citizens, as well as tools to help these Member States to address potentially unfair practices or abuse.

This is where the EU-funded BEUCITIZEN project comes into play. In a recent article published on EUROPP, project members Cecilia Bruzelius and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser from the University of Oxford argue that the proposal fails to address key weaknesses in the existing system.

Their main concern regards the extension of unemployment benefits from the country of origin to six months, along with the three-month period for being granted access to these benefits in the country of destination. The two researchers say that, due to economic disparities among Member States, the actual level of unemployment benefits that can be exported differs significantly and can expose mobile EU jobseekers to exploitation.

‘For example, a jobseeker from Romania moving to Denmark in search of a job would be entitled only to a weekly unemployment benefit of €27, whilst someone who lost his/her job in Denmark would receive a weekly benefit of €367,’ the researchers state in the article. Being economically inactive, this fictional Romanian citizen would not have access to any social assistance benefits from the country of destination (unless having the right to reside), and as a consequence would likely be forced to take up any job offer just to survive. In other words, this Romanian citizen will have a harder time seeking decent work abroad than his/her Danish counterpart.

To solve this problem, the Oxford researchers suggest a European Minimum Income Scheme (EMIS) for all mobile jobseekers, ‘to be paid at a level of 25 % of the equivalised net median income (the level of social assistance in a number of EU Member States) in the country of destination for a maximum duration of three months within a 24 month period.’ They argue that providing such a benefit for mobile jobseekers would significantly increase the reservation wage, thereby minimising the risk of exploitation.

All in all, such an EMIS would cost a little more than EUR 1 billion, a price tag that the team finds plausible - and even rather modest - in the current EU climate for tighter social spending.

For more information, please see:
project website

Source: Based on a web article from the project

Related information

Record Number: 126811 / Last updated on: 2017-01-12
Category: Policy making and guidelines
Provider: EC
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