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The idea of European citizenship still dominates, being the world’s only “real” post-national and non-state citizenship that provides an individual with freedoms, obligations, rights and a sense of community.
At the same time, the EU citizenship still lacks a real “social side”, despite all references to European equality and welfare. A step forward for the EU: s future would be a further development of citizenship by creating a sense of a constitutional right to a basic income.
While one can argue that American “DNA” presents freedom, in European terms it can be presented as welfare. There have been several occasions of leading politicians stating that EU stands for around 50 percent of global welfare. Statistically that is true, but how does it look when it comes to a real economy?
Some parts of the EU as Sweden and Germany have high taxation and highly developed welfare states while others have lower levels of taxation and smaller welfare programs. One can also wonder if such large and generous systems based on having high-tax welfare states really have a future? When speaking about post-industrial development and 4th industrial revolution based on robotics, AI and biotech.
Sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, also known as the “father” of the European constitutional patriotism, used to write about the EU-citizenship as the world first’s “post-national one”. Arguments in favour of EU developing into a more common public, media and democratic space also need complementation of ideas based on having a basic law and residential rights, that can include aspects such as social inclusion and cover for individual’s basic needs.
The idea of basic income has been globally gaining more and more popularity. It also represents a mixture of different proposals that are uniting people from political left, middle and right. Most of basic income proposals are still connected to the local and the state levels of governance but there are also ideas about EU-level and global level as well. One proposal that has been presented is by Professor Philippe van Parijs. In his proposal every EU-citizen could be able to receive 200 euros per month.
As in van Parijs example, the ideas of basic income often appear together with the ideas related to carbon tax and tax on financial services. By imposing such taxes, it would also possible to reduce income taxes so that wages can be higher. In Parijs example 1 ton of CO2 could be taxed by 20 euros. Another way to finance a European basic income policy would be reducing bureaucracy by transforming the already existing funds such as those used for Common Agricultural Policy or for the European Social fund.
The idea of an European basic income also concerns the debate about tax sovereignty. Such policy would namely demand EU-level taxes but also include a civic European social contract between the EU-level of governance and the citizen. One should also keep in mind that the intergovernmental negotiations on funding the EU-budget can be a time-consuming.
The idea of basic income could be a part of solution to increase levels of civic support and legitimacy of European institutions, promotion a further economic integration and the global free trade while at the same making difference for residents in both Berlin and Barcelona as well as in Cesis and Rimini.
This would be a step forward to empower the European citizenship and union’s population, something that is crucial for the EU-level to tackle problems of social exclusion and poverty, as well of fast technological changes. The European Parliament elections are coming soon, and they represent a golden opportunity for the political actors to advocate basic income polices.