FAQ

This is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. For all the answers, just click on the questions.

What is the european citizens initiative?

The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon, aimed at increasing direct democracy in the European Union. The initiative enables one million EU citizens, who are nationals of at least one quarter of the Member States, to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act in an area where the Member States have conferred powers onto the EU level. For more information, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/welcome

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Why an initiative for Basic Income?

In many countries, researchers, activists, and sometimes politicians have been working for decades in order to raise awareness on the need of an unconditional Basic Income. One has to admit it: without much success, at least at the very political level. This doesn’t mean that the idea of Basic Income isn’t spreading worldwide, quite the contrary.

From this observation, we launch this initiative in an attempt to join forces at the European level.

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Who can sign the initiative?

According to the commission’s website: “All EU citizens (nationals of a member state) old enough to vote* in the European Parliament elections (18 except in Austria, where the voting age is 16) can sign a Citizens’ Initiative.”

In other words, if you are American or Swiss, you can not sign our initiative.

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Where and how can I sign?

The signature form will be linked from the very homepage of the present website. Paper forms will also be available for download on this website. Again, we invite you to sign up to our newsletter in order to be informed when you can take action.

Please note that you cannot sign on a paper form if you already signed online (and vice versa). Indeed, according to the ECI regulations, two statements by the same person will be lost statements.

 

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Who is behind the initiative?

At the moment we are citizens from 20 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia,Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom) in the “Working European Citizens Committee”. In addition a number of persons from other coutries have already shown interest to support this ECI for UBI (eg. Portugal, Finland, Hungary). Citizens of each of the 27 countries can (and should) participate. Anybody, who has contact to citizens of additional countries should inform them and explain, in which way they could help us to get the 1 million signatures.

Because the ECI regulation only allows seven people to be part of the official citizens committee, the following persons were designated by consensus among the working group:

  • Organizer: Klaus Sambor (Austria)
  • Substitute: Ronald Blaschke (Germany)
  • Stanislas Jourdan (France)
  • Olympios Raptis (Grèce)
  • Annie Miller (UK)
  • Sepp Kusstatscher (Italy)
  • Branko Gerlic (Slovenia)

If you want to know more about these persons, read our http://basicincome2013.eu/ubi/who-are-we/

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How was the initiative prepared?

The working group mentioned above was formed following a number of European meetings for the unconditional Basic Income. During a meeting in Wien (2011), it was agreed to prepare a European citizen’s initiative on unconditional Basic Income.

Invited by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Gerald Häfner, about 50 people gathered in Brussels in the European Parliament, in order to discuss and agree on a common text that would be submitted to the EU commission. Another meeting was then organized in Paris in July, and the first attempt was then submitted to the EU commission.

This submission was rejected by the EU commission under the pretext that the subject of this initiative fell “manifestly outside of the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act of the Union for the purpose of implementing the Treaties”.

Following this rejection, the working group met again in Ottobrunn near Munich (Germany) and decided to work again on a second proposal. Gathered again in Firenze (Italy), the working group submitted a new ECI – the one that was finally accepted by the EU commission.

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What is the Unconditional Basic Income?

The initiators of the present initiative – which aims at exploring the feasibility of a European Basic Income scheme – emphasize that UBI should not replace the welfare state but rather complete and transform the same from a compensatory into an emancipatory welfare state.

The emancipatory Unconditional Basic Income is defined by the following four criteria: universal, individual, unconditional, high enough to ensure an existence in dignity and participation in society.

Universal: In principle every person, irrespective of age, descent, place of residence, profession etc. will be entitled to receive this allocation. Thus we claim a European-wide, guaranteed, unconditional Basic Income.

Individual: Every woman, every man, every child has the right to a Basic Income on an individual basis, and definitely not on a couple or household basis. The Unconditional Basic Income will be independent of their circumstances: of marital status, cohabitation or household configuration, or of the income or property of other household or family members. This is the only way to ensure privacy and to prevent control over other individuals. It enables individuals to make their own decisions.

Unconditional: We regard Basic Income as a human right which shall not depend on any preconditions, whether an obligation to take paid employment, to be involved in community service, or to behave according to traditional gender roles. Nor will it be subject to income, savings or property limits.

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 means that the net income should, at a minimum, be at the poverty-risk level according to EU standards, which corresponds to 60% of the so-called national median net equivalent income. Especially in countries where the majority have low incomes, and therefore median income is low, an alternative benchmark (e.g. a basket of goods) should be used to determine the amount of the Basic Income, to guarantee a life in dignity, material security and full participation in society.

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What should be the amount of the basic income according to the initiative?

Accord ing to the criteria mentioned above, it was considered by the working group that the level of the UBI should “at a minimum, be at the poverty-risk level according to EU standards, which corresponds to 60% of the so-called national median net equivalent income.”

However, this level should be understood as a landmark more than a demand. Indeed, our initiative only asks the EU commission to make a case for the proposal of a UBI scheme in the European Union, notably through feasibility studies that will aim at exploring this proposal.

In others words, the question of the amount of the UBI remains open to the democratic debate – as the UBI idea in itself!

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Why not ask directly for UBI implementation?

Mostly because this was impossible given the current state of affairs in the EU and given the ECI regulation. Indeed, because social policies remain today under the responsibility of the members states, the EU Institutions have no power for producing regulations on this matter.

According to the EU treaties however, the Commission “shall encourage cooperation between the Member States and facilitate the coordination of their action in all social policy fields under this Chapter, particularly in matters relating to employment, labour law and working conditions,basic and advanced vocational training, social security, prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, occupational hygiene, the right of association and collective bargaining between employers and workers.”

Under our initiative then, what we ask the commission is to use all its means for exploring how a Basic Income scheme could be set in the European Union. Would it imply a stronger fiscal harmonization of the members states? How about social and labor rights? How could a EU Basic Income scheme be integrated within the existing welfare schemes? Of course, a range of different scenarios could be examined.

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We already know basic income is feasible. Why ask for new studies?

This initiative is not just about feasibility studies. It is about embedding UBI within the agenda of the EU institutions.

In many countries, studies have demonstrated that a basic income is possible to finance at the national level (see the literature on the Basic Income Earth Network’s website). However relevant the idea of UBI is for Europe right now, one has to consider the fact that no European country has implemented it yet. As a consequence, the EU commission can hardly harmonize, or push a proposal that doesn’t exist yet anywhere in the EU.

Hence the need to consider seriously how a European basic income scheme could work, and we believe that having the EU institutions as a stakeholder of this reflexion can only accelerate its implementation.

But most of all, this initiative is really about raising awareness about Basic Income at the international level as well as the national and local one. We believe that the challenge of collecting one million signatures will encourage people from every country of the EU to organize themselves for making a great campaign that will finally convince more people about the importance of the idea of Basic Income in these times of harsh crisis for lots of people.

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Why not use a petition website such as Avaaz?

In order to collect statements of support (signatures), we must use specific forms which comply with the models for the statement of support form set out by the ECI, and which include all required information regarding the proposed initiative.

Put simply, we have to use the ECI’s online petition system.

The European Citizens’ Initiative is more than a mere petition. To know why, see the question: What is the European citizens initiative?

For more information, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/how-it-works

The cooperation with AVAAZ still has not worked out. Read the info here: http://basicincome2013.eu/ubi/why-avaaz-and-campact-not-support-our-initiative/

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How many signatures do we need?

The short answer is 1,000,000 (one million). However, it’s a little more complicated than that. For example, we can’t just collect one million signatures from a single member state. Rather, we must collect a minimum number of signatures from at least 7 different member states (each member state has its own minimum number of required signatures). Those 7 member states don’t have to be specified in advance.

http://basicincome2013.eu/ubi/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/eci-how-many-signatures.png

IMPORTANT: The signatures collected from member states where the minimum has not been reached will still be counted towards the one-million target.

For more information, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/how-it-works/collection

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What happens if we reach the million signatures?

In the three months following the submission of a citizens’ initiative which has received the required number of statements of support:

  • Commission representatives will meet the organisers so they can explain in detail the issues raised in their initiative;
  • The organisers will have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament;
  • Following a careful examination of the initiative, the Commission will adopt a formal response spelling out what action it intends to take, if any, and its reasons.

This response, which will take the form of a communication, will be formally adopted by the College of Commissioners and published in all official EU languages.
In certain cases, it may only present the preliminary opinion of the Commission, which may require further studies on the subject before making its final decision.
If the Commission decides to put forward a legislative proposal in response to a citizens’ initiative, the normal legislative procedure kicks off. The Commission proposal is submitted to the legislator (the European Parliament and the Council or in some cases only the Council), which will need to adopt it for it to become law.

For more information you can consult the European Citizens’ Initiative guide.

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How can I help collecting signatures?

As we have to reach out broadly, the campaign will be led mostly at a national level. So, the best thing you can start with (after asking your closest circles to sign the initiative) is to get in contact with local or national organizations that actively promote Basic Income.

You’ll find a list of contact details for each country to get involved in your national campaign.
However, if you want to get involved on the European level, feel free to let us know how you would like to help.

To collect signatures, you can either redirect people to this website, either download the paper version of the ECI-UBI.

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Can I bring my support for a national Basic Income too?

Absolutely, you should also support a national Basic Income, like in Finland where they have launched a Citizens’ Initiative.

Indeed, the EU cannot implement UBI because of the Treaties, so it has to start in every country then the Commission would have to help them to cooperate and to harmonize their Basic Income with each others.

You can find a map on this page http://basicincome2013.eu/ubi/European-map-of-basic-income-groups/ with every organization or network that promotes or is linked to the UBI in every European country.

Also, the ECI relies on the mobilization of these local and national groups to promote it, raise awareness and collect signatures.

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What is the need for a Basic Income in Europe?

We see today overwhelming evidence that the economic and social policies of the EU countries have a devastating impact on the lives of many Europeans.

Rather than producing favourable conditions for the life of each individual, they often lead to a situation in which people have very little control over their own lives.

In spite of the various solutions, measures and means put forth on national and European levels by successive governments to improve the conditions of life and work of their populations, a growing number of people are confronted with an everyday life of financial restrictions and a fading hope of seeing personal and professional efforts recognized.

With the objective of implementing an Unconditional Basic Income for each individual, our European Citizens’ Initiative sets an emancipatory process in motion allowing everyone the opportunity of participation in working towards the common goals as stated in the Constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights.

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Who is the representative for my country?

England

will follow

Ireland

will follow

Malta

will follow

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What shall i do with the collected signatures on paper?

Important Question! IN any case, you must keep then yourself on a safe place later hand them over to the representative of the Citizens’ Committe in your country. This representative will then make sure they are delivered to the proper authorities of your country. The authorities will check them and send them to the EC.

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Why do I have to provide such sensible private data?

We are not running a standard petition (like you may usually do on websites such as Avaaz or change.org). Instead, we are using a very official process, the european citizens’ initiative (ECI), under which the European commission is committed to examine our demand, and make something about it. In other words, under our initiative, you can a way to have a say on the EU policies.

Actually, your statement of support is almost like an electronic vote and therefore we have to comply with very strict regulations — among which the one of asking your personal identification data (NB: this requirements differs among EU countries). This notably enable the national institutions to check the validity of your statement of support, detects and remove doublons, and thus strengthen the credibility of our demand.

Your privacy is a priority concern for us.

All informations collected through the signature form are encrypted and stored in a very secure way on the servers of the EU commission (provided free of charge). A very few persons — penally responsible for that — have access to the decryption keys that enable us to extract your data before providing them to the national authorities for the certification process. Of course, no data can be transfered or used by a third party — they will actually be destroyed at the end of the process.

Thank you sincerely for your confidence.

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Can i sign when not living in my native country?

The European Citizens’ Initiative gives the following answer:

This is an issue in the regulation (REGULATION (EU) No 211/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 16 February 2011 on the citizens’ initiative).
For some people living abroad, they cannot sign any more for their country of origin (for example, because they are not resident anymore) and they don’t have the possibility to vote in their new country of residence (for example, because they don’t have any required ID document).
There is nothing we can do without a change to the regulation.

European Commission
Directorate-General for Informatics
Unit DIGIT/B1, Information systems for document management and corporate decision making processes
European Citizen’s Initiatives – Online Collection Software

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Random Frequently Asked Question in random language
Kan ik meehelpen om het nationale Basisinkomen te ondersteunen
moet nog vertaald Absolutely, you should also support a national Basic Income, like in Finland…

See the entire answer

Sign Initiative!