Europe is facing the worst recession since the Great Depression. Millions of workers currently supported by government furlough schemes could lose their jobs once those schemes come to an end. The OECD predicts unemployment in the eurozone may reach 10% by the end of June 2020 (up from 6.5% in February).

At the same time, some are warning that the pandemic may accelerate labour-replacing automation. The labour market may change permanently in the wake of lockdown. In the United States, for example, researchers estimate that 2 out of 5 jobs lost during the COVID-19 crisis may not come back.

Does this strengthen the case for a Universal Basic Income? Proponents of UBI point out that governments (and voters) seem more open to experimentation right now, given such previously-unthinkable amounts are anyway being spent on job retention and unemployment support schemes. Supporters would like to see UBI schemes trialled and introduced across Europe; regular cash transfers granted to all citizens, no matter their income, without conditions attached. Typically, supporters argue these transfers should replace the existing social security system, and should be enough for a person to survive (and “live with dignity”) but not enough to disincentivise economic activity.

Critics, however, argue that UBI would be both expensive and would be less targeted than existing social welfare systems. To pay for a UBI, most governments would have to get rid of the majority of other benefits, including those which are targeted towards the disabled, the sick and the elderly. Opponents of UBI schemes argue this would mean the resources of the state would not be targeted efficiently to support the people who need it most.

Is the case for a Universal Basic Income now stronger than ever? Should European governments trial UBI schemes at the local and regional level? Or are UBI schemes less effective than targeted transfers? 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: BigStock – (c) Eldar Nurkovic


40 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform-Proactive

    OMG- Historical: https://ubi-europe.net/ubi/brief-history-basic-income-ideas/

    Dream on all global Humanist’s like Thomas More (1478-1535) & alike- who didn’t make it past their 60’s- in contrast to today’s 1st world privileged chasing the 81-84 numbers & growing.

    Historic sayings like: “No penalty on earth will stop people from stealing if it is their only way of getting food. It would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood”- or

    “Absolute economic security” for the individual, where “they shall sit every man under his vine and his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.”- or

    No matter how many Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
    Like: Article 3.
    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
    Or: Article 25.
    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate… “Implies….”

    Or: Venture for America (VFA) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venture_for_America

    It requires that every politician, governance, bureaucrat or expert works for nothing. Administration & production cost nothing, nobody like lawyers, professionals, think tanks etc. charges anything, no one receives a salary, benefit, bonus, gratitude nor a guaranteed pension but only a grant like these global dreamers suggest. A world has gone happily crazy!

    Please let’s first receive all these dreamers calculations- supposedly making heaven on earth possible!

    I rest my comment but rather go to bed- than waste my time daydreaming because there are so many more productive & challenging tasks waiting to do tomorrow!

  2. avatar
    Scott Santens

    For centuries we have withheld the resources people need to live on the condition they work for it, and for the last 50 years, that has become increasingly untenable as an organizing principle for a society with increasingly less need for labor. With millions of people lining up for food banks while farmers destroy the crops they can’t sell, it has become crystal clear that the safety nets of the past are not built for purpose here in the 21st century. Nets are full of holes. What we need is a raised floor that’s always there – a secure foundation built on top of the poverty line to prevent anyone and everyone from falling under it. Poverty is archaic, as Dr. King said, it has no justification in our age. Now is the time to end poverty and transform our relationship with work. Working for money should be about working for income we want to spend, not income we need to spend. Once we guarantee survival with an unconditional basic income floor, then employment becomes about thriving, not surviving, and all work, paid or unpaid, becomes a matter of choice and a matter of enrichment. A world full of fully voluntary work is a world full of freedom, where the lines between work and play are blurred, and our time is our own to spend as we choose, as our lives as human beings were always meant to be.

  3. avatar
    Osmen

    it should be add before not now because with income he would get bored and started a job

  4. avatar
    Manos

    Yea if all goods around the world costed the same… NOT

  5. avatar
    Христо

    Yea if all goods around the world costed the same… NOT

  6. avatar
    João

    How about we also include in this discussion the concept of Negative Income Tax as opposed to UBI?

  7. avatar
    Robin

    I don’t need it, but many people need it, so we should consider it.

  8. avatar
    Graz

    Definitely, it is. And, most likely, has always been.

  9. avatar
    João

    I do have to many serious doubts, as economist.

  10. avatar
    Skender

    Offcourse its good,more money will circulate,no hungry people and people could work what they like and not what is better paid

  11. avatar
    Craig

    A very interesting notion! UBI can be a way of ensuring basic social stability while simplifying administration. It’s been quite amazing to see the U.S. implement a kind of UBI pilot as a result of the COVID lockdowns.
    The Q is: what would be the appropriate level and how would this be financed? Personally, I think this is an opportunity to eliminate a lot of the expensive activities we engage in as part of the rat-race to supposedly universalize the middle class: government-subsidized fake diplomas and fake jobs. It is grotesquely inefficient to have young people stay in education until they are 18, 21 or even 25, only to then be stuck in sub-minimum wage internships. The overwhelming majority of this “learning” is of no professional value (and often of questionable value period). I am convinced many young people go through this process and emerge from it having low self-esteem, feeling useless and dependent; feelings which would be addressed if they were encouraged to make their own living through useful work and live independently earlier.
    So, besides rationalizing the welfare system (which implies tradeoffs), I think gutting higher and secondary education – though not STEM obviously – and encouraging young people to work earlier (on top of their UBI) would be a good idea. Opens Q of what people would do with their possible free time and guaranteed income.. well, depends how much faith in human nature you have. Perhaps we should have somewhat modest expectations, though I do think many people could use their leisure and security profitably.

  12. avatar
    ´Maria

    The world is submitted to great corporations. All the others work and pay taxes. Middle classe disapeared. Universal basic income is not an option. This happened in USSR, and didnt work. I dont understand why EU stands for Socialism.
    We must fight the big corporations, and have an economy where lives matter. Right now the work is not valued.
    ..

  13. avatar
    Casaluna

    Where in hell do you think money is growing ? On trees ?

    • avatar
      Γεώργιος

      printed by lucky institutions as they like

    • avatar
      Любомир

      If you want to see what happens when you just start printing free money, take a look at Zimbabwe.

    • avatar
      Casaluna

      Remember the Weimar Republic ?

    • avatar
      Γεώργιος

      why not USA or ECB or Russia or turkey or S. Arabia?

    • avatar
      Любомир

      Take a look at Turkey too, yes. The value of the turkish pound has plummeted in the last 5 years. USA’s economy can still take on additional inflation and debt, but even their dollars aren’t limitless and even they could suffer from hyperinflation if they just start printing unlimited amounts of money.

    • avatar
      Γεώργιος

      Study to understand what money is. It is only a means of transactions and no more

    • avatar
      Γεώργιος

      And they could starve if they print limited amounts of money. As I said

    • avatar
      Любомир

      Please study some basic economics before talking BS.

    • avatar
      Ovidijus

      Federal Reserve is printing them and taking how much they want for them selfs. So yes they grow on trees.

    • avatar
      Mario

      since 2010 that central banks are injecting free money in the economy.

    • avatar
      Γεώργιος

      50 years is a good try. But an open mind is needed to understand somehow how it functions

    • avatar
      Bertalan

      Or you need to google Modern Monetary Theory before you scold anyone out of ignorance.

    • avatar
      Любомир

      You talk about ignorance, yet you clealry have no idea that UBI is not something new. There have been numerous pilot runs and experiments done in numerous countries for the past 50 years. It has failed every time for two very simple reasons:
      – The government cannot redistribute more value than thе value, which the economy can produce, no matter how much money it prints. That will only lead to hyperinflation. Simply put, you can’t redistribute non-existent economic value.
      – Such a model is not sustainable in the long run, as it disincentivises both the hard workers and the business owners from pushing themselves to create higher value. If you are getting free money AND the government takes away most of what you earn, why would you push yourself to work hard? In the long run this leads to lower overall efficiency and performance of the elements in the economic system. This then leads to lower tax income, which leads to a lower universal basic income, which in the end leads to people getting poorer and poorer. The same thing happened in most socialist countries during the Soviet era.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_pilots

  14. avatar
    Любомир

    A global pandemic with an unstable global economy is NOT the time to run controverscial socio-economic experiments.

    • avatar
      Любомир

      Living in a rich state is also not a human right.

  15. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    Secure everybody’s livelihood is fundamental human right

    • avatar
      Любомир

      Sorry, no, having a nanny state taking care of you is not a human right. Everyone is responsible for their own livelyhood.

    • avatar
      Casaluna

      I don’t deny fundamental rights but fundamental rights to be fulfilled need rich states. So first the means than the rights!

  16. avatar
    Julia

    The system we have now is unfair and cruel. A UBI will help the people, businesses and the economy. Anyone moaning about ‘where the money will come from’ doesn’t actually know where money comes from. Where there is a will there is a quick and easy way. And with looming covid-19 lockdowns on the winter horizon, now would be a great time for a test run. Anyone moaning about people not working is unkind. Many people want to work. Some new parents may want to stay home and bring up their children. Some people can’t work and some people don’t want to work. So what? Does that mean they should be allowed to starve, suffer or sell themselves? I am fed up of seeing cold-hearted people impose their meanness on the vulnerable in society.

  17. avatar
    Sergio

    Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody’s livelihood were secured? Or to put it another way: wouldn’t it be nice to fund with your hard earned payslip the livelihood of those who don’t put in the effort you put in to make a living so they can live off your work? No, it wouldn’t be nice.

    • avatar
      Chris

      The point of the UNIVERSAL basic income is that it would be UNIVERSAL. You would get it too! Yes your tax could go towards support for someone who pays less or no tax due to their income, just as someone who makes more money than you, would be paying tax to help support you!

    • avatar
      Sergio

      That´s not the way taxes and wealth redistribution and governemnt budgets work. If you believe EVERYONE is going to get an extra payment from the government because there is always someone who makes more money paying for it you might as well believe in unicorns. Guess what, people´s salaries and government revenues are not endless. They have a limit, so one way or another there is a threashold which divides who actually is a net contributor and who is a net receptor. And there are usually more net contributors than net receptors. Especually with something like UBI

    • avatar
      Chris

      “delivered to all citizens of a given population without a means test or work requirement.[2]”
      Literally the first paragraph on the description of UBI
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

    • avatar
      Chris

      hows that for unicorns

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