(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Basic income

  5 Debates

A petition was launched in Austria on Monday aimed at introducing an unconditional basic income. If the initiators manage to gather 100,000 signatures within eight days the proposal must be discussed in parliament. Every Austrian citizen would receive 1,200 euros per month, and the costs would be financed by a financial transaction tax. Is this a step towards a fairer society or a completely unrealistic concept?

Five Dutch cities have been given the go-ahead to experiment with social welfare payments. They want to ease regulations for some recipients in a bid to help the long-term unemployed to rejoin the workforce. The initiative does not go as far as introducing the basic income demanded by leftist parties, however. Dutch papers take different views of the plan.

Finland launched a globally unique experiment on 1 January: It is testing an unconditional basic income for the unemployed. For two years, 2000 randomly selected people will receive 560 euros every month. Payments like housing benefit will continue, and the test subjects will be allowed to earn money on top of their basic income without deductions. The press sees this as an exciting pilot project.

The Swiss have clearly rejected the universal basic income in a referendum: around 77 percent opposed it while 23 percent voted for the initiative. Commentators argue that now would have been the right time to ensure that people have an income that covers their basic needs.

Next year Finland will begin a pilot project for the introduction of a basic income. 1,500 people will participate in the experiment. They will receive up to 750 euros on top of their low incomes from the state. Commentators are sceptical about the idea.