Unconditional Basic Income - The European Citizens Initiative Promoters attended the EUMANS Congress

The representatives of the European Citizens Initiative "Start Unconditional Basic Income Throughout the EU" attended the EUMANS Congress in Warsaw. Here you can find the speech they presented. Unconditional Basic Income ECI was among the promoters of the EU Sign Day in 2021
Although EUMANS doesn't have a specific position on the proposal, we open up the debate on this topic and we encourage all European Citizens to sign the European Citizens Initiative


Unconditional Basic Incomes Throughout the EU

By Ronald Blaschke and Klaus Sambor

Representatives of the European Citizens‘ Initiative „Start Unconditional Basic Incomes throughout the EU“, https://eci-ubi.eu/, https://eci.ec.europa.eu/014/public/#/screen/home

ECI on Conference on the Future of Europe https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/Economy/f/10/proposals/1556

1. Why Europe needs Sustainable Peace, Freedom an Democracy and why we take part in the EUMANS Congress

Sustainable peace is the basic of all, all over the world. 

And Freedom, democracy and sustainability are not specific goods and goals that only affect Europe. They are goods and goals that affect human rights, i.e. all people, everywhere. However, human rights are also the basis of the various treaties and agreements of the EU and in Europe.

Human rights and the fundamental rights associated with them are not simply given to people, they are to be fought for; Everywhere and again and again. 

In addition, human and fundamental rights are unconditionally granted to all human beings, political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights belong to people because they are human. That is the only condition. To live and work self-determined, to engage in solidarity, democratically and politically, to live in a healthy environment and intact nature – this is the right of all living people, as well as all future generations of people.

We have at the moment the terrible situation with the war in Ukraine and we see, that (beside the problems with the pandemy) this is also hindering us to get the people to speek about UBI, because people think, the help for people coming from the Ukraine are more important now. In our opinion this is not true, because both is important to be taken into account in parallel.

The right to adequate material security, to health care and care, to education and culture is also important to all people.

The unconditional basic income is part of a strategy to effectively implement the right to sufficient material security for all – it is unconditionally granted to each and every individual, i.e. universally and individually, like the other rights mentioned.

In order to enforce this fundamental right, also in Europe, we are fighting as part of the great movement for freedom, democracy and sustainability.

2. About Unconditional Basic Income

Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) shall not replace the welfare state but rather

complete and transform the same from a compensatory into an emancipatory welfare

state.

Unconditional Basic Income is defined by the following four criteria (see Annex of ECI UBI):

Universal: UBI is paid to all, without means test. It is not subject to income, savings

or property limits. Every person, irrespective of age, descent, citizenship, place of

residence, profession etc. will be entitled to receive this allocation. Thus, we claim a

EU-wide, guaranteed, unconditional basic income.

Individual: Everyone – every woman, every man, every child – has the right to UBI

on an individual basis as this is the only way to ensure privacy and to prevent control

over other individuals. UBI will be independent of marital status, cohabitation or

household configuration, or of the income or property of other household - or family

members. This enables individuals to make their own decisions.

Unconditional: As a human and legal right UBI shall not depend on any

preconditions, whether an obligation to take paid employment, to demonstrate

willingness-to-work, to be involved in community service, or to behave according to

any gender roles.

High enough: The amount should provide for a decent standard of living, which

meets society’s social and cultural standards in the country concerned. It should

prevent material poverty and provide the opportunity to participate in society. This

meens that the net amount of UBI should be at least above the at-risk-of-poverty

level according to EU standards, which corresponds to 60% of the so-called national

median net equivalent income. In countries where the majority has low incomes, and therefore median income is low, an alternative benchmark (e.g. a basket of goods and services) should be used to determine the amount of the basic income, to guarantee a life in dignity, material security and full participation in society.

Altiero Spinelli, antifascist, outstanding politician and one of the famoust founders of EU declared: "Modern civilization has taken as its specific foundation the principle of liberty which says that man is not a mere instrument to be used by others but that every man must be an autonomous life centre. With this definition in hand, all those aspects of social life that have not respected this principle have been placed on trial in the grand, historical process that has begun."

About the socal basic right of everyone Spinelli mentioned: "The almost unlimited potentiality of mass production of goods of prime necessity through modern technology, allow everyone to be guaranteed, at relatively low social cost, food, lodging, clothing and that minimum of comfort needed to preserve a sense of human dignity. Human solidarity turned towards those who succumb in the economic battle ought not, therefore, be shown with same humiliating forms of charity that produce the very same evils it vainly attempts to remedy. Rather it must take a series of measures which unconditionally guarantee a decent standard of living for everyone, without lessening the stimulus to work and to save. In this situation, no one would any longer be forced by misery to accept unfair work contracts." i

So we summarize: As a part of different politics to transform the current society in a society with truly free humans the Unconditional Basic Income is one important stone to build up a new Europe, and new European Union. 

3. Why UNconditional Basic IncomeS in Europe Promote Democracy and Sustainbility too 

"Democracy" is nothing without democracy, it means: Democracy is nothing without citizens, who has he chance to take part in building society, in public affairs. Of course, that is a matter of real possibilities, infrastructures. But that is also a matter of material, financial security of every human being. Uncoditional Basic Income allows everyone to take part in public affairs – regarding the own material and temporal possibility. Precariousness, to much labour and poverty exclude out of public affairs of society. 

And: No class, no person whom guraanted an Unconditional Basic Income can being blackmailed with "promises" about jobs, economic growth and trickle-down-effects. ii

For a great deal of advocates and activists in the degrowth movement and in the movement for a social-ecological transformation is clear: Sustainable ecological transition is impossible without unconditional social security for all people. Why? "First, by mitigating economic insecurity, UBI removes a massive barrier to ecological progress. Degrowth advocates often agree that chronic economic insecurity 'block[s] important transformation processes, including ecological ones'. Second, UBI is typically seen as promoting citizens’ participation in democracy, which it turn creates the groundwork for the transition to a more sustainable economy and society (which many believe to be attainable only through democratic means). Third, UBI could engender an economy based on solidarity rather than competition. Some parts of the degrowth movement hold that a solidarity-based economy (in contrast to a profit-driven competitive economy) is the only way to thwart excessive consumption of natural resources. Fourth, UBI enables individuals to exercise much greater control over their own time, and many in the degrowth movement maintain that 'shortening the period of gainful employment and having more time available for other activities is a transition project on the way to a degrowth society.'" iii

And last but not least: 

In according to Altiero Spinelli can be said: An Unconditional Basic Income promote the principle of liberty – which says that woman is not a mere instrument to be used by others but that every woman must be an autonomous life centre.

Altiero Spinelli, Ernesto Rossi: The Manifesto of Ventotene, 1941; http://www.altierospinelli.org/manifesto/manifesto_en.html 

ii Katja Kipping: Unconditional basic income as a fixed rate of democracy

Safeguarding the social freedom and economic power of all people, 2016;

https://www.katja-kipping.de/de/article/1231.unconditional-basic-income-as-a-fixed-rate-of-democracy.html 

iii Kate McFarland about Ronald Blaschke: Sustainable ecological transition is impossible without unconditional social security for all people, 2017; https://basicincome.org/news/2017/02/ronald-blaschke-sustainable-ecological-transition-is-impossible-without-unconditional-social-security-for-all-people/ and https://degrowth.info/en/about-us/project/unconditional-basic-income