International Colloquium - The Challenge of the Universal Basic Income in the EU

Brussels, 29 and 30 November 2021

The European Union (EU) is facing a combination of profound changes, including ecological sustainability, demographic ageing, the digital economy, artificial intelligence and, due to the coronavirus, pandemics. It is therefore compelled to reflect on the mutation of its production model, its consumption model and, beyond that, its social model.
It is possible to envisage a different allocation of resources with the objective of producing not to accumulate (which would avoid exhausting resources) but to satisfy needs that have to be reformulated. This perspective would be all the more feasible given that the digital economy is already replacing certain jobs and that the trend will continue, making low-skilled jobs scarcer in favour of skilled and highly skilled jobs. Under these conditions, in order to be able to live together, it would become necessary to allow everyone to meet their basic needs, without excess but without deprivation.

It is in this context that an old project is resurfacing: the universal allowance or universal basic income. The debate attempted to weave its way into the last presidential campaign in France. In other European countries and within the Commission, the project is increasingly being debated, to the extent that debates revolve around its feasibility rather than its interest or rejection. Building a society where time would no longer be systematically equated with working time - since everyone would obtain a monetary sum without resorting to work - raises several questions, two of which seem to be fundamental:

1. What would the project cost and how would it be financed? There must be enough people employed to create wealth and this must be done in a sustainable way to ensure financing over time. Furthermore, would the allowance be complementary to existing social benefits or not? Since these differ within the EU-27, due to different perceptions of what social protection should or can be, it is likely that EU-members would first have to agree on the contours of a social model.

2. Who would be the beneficiaries of the universal benefit? A priori all Europeans, since it is a universal basic income, except that the EU has borders and is subject to migratory movements. It therefore seems useful to think about the modalities that would dissociate the elected from the excluded. We are thinking in particular of asylum seekers, students or seasonal workers from outside Europe, non-European employees in transnational companies, and candidates for family reunification.

In an attempt to provide tools for understanding and decision-making, the colloquium will propose two workshops:

Workshop 1

Monday 29 November, 14.00–17.30 h: How can the universal basic income be sustainably financed in the EU-27?

Workshop 2

Tuesday 30 November, 9.30–13.00 h: The modalities of eligibility to the universal basic income.

Paper proposals that must correspond to either Workshop 1 or Workshop 2 should be submitted by 15 September 2021 to: and
A response to these proposals will be sent before 15 October 2021.
CIFE will cover the accommodation and catering costs for accepted contributions.


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