How can the EU stay relevant in a rapidly-changing world? The think tank Friends of Europe has published an EU citizens’ “Mandate for Change“, setting out eleven ideas for revitalising the European project. They were formulated in response to a survey of 11,000 EU citizens, and have been presented to Members of the European Parliament as part of the #EuropeMatters project. Debating Europe will be discussing some of these ideas, and taking your comments and reactions to policymakers and experts for them to respond.

One of the most radical ideas is the development of an EU-wide unemployment benefit scheme. The publication from Friends of Europe suggests the European Union should:

“Champion the development of a Europe-wide healthcare and social protection framework. The EU’s emphasis on social and healthcare policies is close to citizens’ hearts. The EU should strive to buttress poorer member states’ social safety nets while also stimulating debate on progressive ideas ranging from an EU-wide unemployment benefit scheme to ideas for a Universal Basic Income.”

This is an old idea, dating back at least to the 1970s and early ’80s. It’s an idea that is still alive today; in 2017, the Centre for European Policy Studies published a feasibility study and roadmap, looking at the technical and macroeconomic impact of the policy. Even the German government, long seen as being staunchly against any possible new fiscal transfer mechanism, is reportedly in favour of the idea.

So, what would it mean in practice? There are couple of ways of implementing it, including either making direct payments to unemployed EU citizens through a European unemployment scheme, or providing assistance to national unemployment schemes on a temporary basis if there should be a spike in the jobless rate. The second approach might be more politically viable as it would only kick-in during a crisis, and would work as an “automatic stabiliser” for the Eurozone currency, ensuring continuing demand in crisis-hit EU Member States that would benefit exports in countries with stronger economies.

Will it be a popular policy? That’s the billion euro question. Will voters in wealthier countries fear they are being forced to subsidise poorer countries? Will populist politicians latch onto it as a way to attack the profligate EU? Or will it improve the functioning of the Single Currency for the benefit of everyone?

Should there be EU-wide unemployment benefits? Would it increase European solidarity and cohesion? Or would it be divisive, and cause resentment and a political backlash in some countries? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – sangriana

23 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    There is a lot of fake unemployement

  2. avatar
    Danny Narraina

    Totally not done for obvious reasons Europe just not ready yet
    The differences of things like wages and taxes are too high.
    There will never be equality in that regard hence a total and utter failure

  3. avatar
    Shadow Hand

    Lol So what will happen is simple, a person from a poor country will travel to a wealthy country, work for the minimum time and then return to their homeland and be ”jobless’, and now reap more money per month in that country than if they had to work. And they can repeat this once a year or once every couple of years depending on the laws.

  4. avatar

    Definitely. There needs to be social cohesion as well as for trade. My brother used EU free movement to work in another EU country. He returned to his own country, worked a couple of years and lost his job. He was not eligible for benefits after the six month unemployment benefit ended because he didn’t fulfil the ‘previous 5 years residence’ clause in the GMI. He had no income for 8 months while he appealed. This makes EU free travel unattractive if people are penalised for using it. Right now the EU serves corporations well but not the people.

  5. avatar

    Before EU the unemployment raiting was low……. this “union” was the biggest fraud for the Europeans!

  6. avatar

    Yes! Absolutely! It would show Europe cares and it would be hopefully fairer if dealt with together.

  7. avatar

    What they mean is refugee benefits

  8. avatar

    EU should have employment. There a lot to do.

  9. avatar
    dr ivana haluskova balter

    Europe have to rethink joint strategy to relaunch economy (” human economy”) and stick to “field proximity” approach
    Need to expand investment into win win partnership built on broadened and constructive cooperation without “artificial and sterile debates and borders”
    Economy + health+ science/technology progress + environement+ education

  10. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should there be EU-wide unemployment benefits?

    For whom? This question here is vague and cannot be answered directly. Are you wanting to force the indigenous tax payer to feed the world you are inviting to invade us? If so, say so. Do not hide it behind this kind of cover.

  11. avatar

    Unemployment scheme is non-productive. It discourage less competent groups from working and making EU a welfare states and eventually overloaded government. It might better to facilitate the unemployed with low interest loan to run small business, re-employment training scheme with subsidy, etc. Sustainable reduction of poverty lies on equipping the poor people with capital and building up personal asset. As seen from the many CCTV series, China has been able to reduce poverty very quickly, it is not by giving money, but encouraging production with government subsidy or attracting investment. It appears that China is now turning to the last batches of isolated villages with tailor-made poverty reduction. By sending people to direct the economic development plan for individual isolated villages, jobs for professionals are created at the same time. May be,China’s huge communication network has also facilitated the flow of people, capital and goods so that jobs are created and economy revitalized.

  12. avatar
    Paul X

    Freedom of Movement as defined in the Treaty of Rome was for people with jobs or for people to take up job offers. The unemployed should not be wandering around Europe looking for the best benefits

  13. avatar

    Of course.Today in Greece only 20% of unemployees take unemployment survival allowances

  14. avatar

    Sure + serious placement support

  15. avatar

    After they clean the streets of their city, yes!

  16. avatar

    Great….we’ll get swedish benefits & live in Portugal. …

  17. avatar

    And who’s going to pay for these unemployment benefits? The average working Joe as usual?

  18. avatar

    No. There should be EU wide work conscription for the able bodied. It would lower the crime rate. If criminals are forced to work, they will have less incentive to break into peoples homes.

  19. avatar

    with EU free travel there must be EU-wide unemployment benefits. otherwise each country causes different problems with either their lack of support, or with too much support. this causes inequality within the EU plus some countries are more unfair than others and cause suffering to those who use EU free travel for work.

  20. avatar

    ther should be between 2000,- and 3000,- eur basic income each.

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