The European Citizens’ Initiative for a Basic Income

Swiss basic income protest, 2013. Photo by Stefan Bohrer - CC BY 2.0.

There are no precedents that can serve as a reference for Europe’s economic and social situation right now. The 2020 European Commission indicators show a drop of 8.3% for GDP growth, while the OECD sets the figure at about 9% for the eurozone. The country-by-country forecasts showing considerable inequality within the EU are calamitous and, with the resurgence of the pandemic and measures adopted in the last two months, the economic prospects for the coming months are even bleaker.

Unemployment and poverty figures, already very high in 2019, have shot up in 2020 in ways that were almost unimaginable just a few months ago. A year ago, more than 21% of the EU population was considered to be at risk of poverty with data that vary greatly between the countries, many of which give figures of over 25%, among them Spain, Lithuania, Italy, Latvia, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria (the latter with more than 32%). The contrast with other states is considerable. For example, in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Finland, Denmark, Slovakia, the Netherlands, and Austria, they range from 12% and 17%. However much the numbers vary, one constant is that things are getting worse every week. Soon we’ll have more end-of-year data. All the signs are that the news will be anything but good.

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Daniel Raventós is a lecturer in Economics at the University of Barcelona and author inter alia of Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom (Pluto Press, 2007). He is on the editorial board of the international political review Sin Permiso.   Julie Wark is an advisory board member of the international political review Sin Permiso. Her last book is The Human Rights Manifesto (Zero Books, 2013).

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