The Minority SafePack Initiative and Universal Basic Income: a Combination to Address Minority Issues in the European Union?

In: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
Craig WillisEuropa-Universität Flensburg, Doctoral student, Seminar für Soziologie, Flensburg, Germany
European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI), Flensburg, Germany

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The Minority SafePack Initiative (mspi) calls for a pact between minorities and majorities in order to preserve, develop and promote the linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe resulting from the high number of national minorities inside the European Union. This article examines the theory behind universal basic income as well as two policy proposals on the EU level and how these overlap with the stated goals and broader aims of the mspi. Developing four core areas as assessment criteria, the article finds that Universal Basic Income (UBI) theory overlaps significantly in terms of potential impact on the capacity for living in homeland, learning in mother tongue, preservation and development of identity and culture, and aiming for equality. These potentially diminish if the basic income amount is not enough to meet basic needs, plus the narrative differs depending on the funding mechanism.


The Minority SafePack Initiative (mspi) calls for a pact between minorities and majorities in order to preserve, develop and promote the linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe resulting from the high number of national minorities inside the European Union. This article examines the theory behind universal basic income as well as two policy proposals on the EU level and how these overlap with the stated goals and broader aims of the mspi. Developing four core areas as assessment criteria, the article finds that Universal Basic Income (UBI) theory overlaps significantly in terms of potential impact on the capacity for living in homeland, learning in mother tongue, preservation and development of identity and culture, and aiming for equality. These potentially diminish if the basic income amount is not enough to meet basic needs, plus the narrative differs depending on the funding mechanism.

1 Introduction

Minority rights in Europe remain chiefly protected through the Council of Europe instruments of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities (fcnm) and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ecrml), enacted over two decades ago. Whilst the European Union (EU) has made steady progress with anti-discrimination law and its treaties do contain protection, preservation and promotion of rights, diversity and cohesion,1 they fall short of the specificity of the tailored Council of Europe legislation. The fcnm and ecrml however lack the same level of legal strength that EU treaties have, due to the latter having direct applicability in law. So, whilst the two Council of Europe instruments continue to offer legal protection and ongoing monitoring at the international level, they and the Council of Europe are also criticised for their legal and geographic limitations.2 Moreover, the need for such strengthening is demonstrated by the continuing issues minorities face across Europe. As such, the Federal Union of National Minorities (fuen) has been pursuing action through the European Citizens’ Initiative instrument, to submit a proposal to the EU Commission. During a turbulent process since 2013, the Minority SafePack Initiative (mspi) has now collected and verified the necessary one million signatures and in early 2020 registered these with the EU Commission’s online system and received the status of valid initiative.3 The mspi outlines the core issues facing national minorities across the EU and develops a series of aims it hopes to address, however it is clearly limited by needing to adhere to the competences of the EU. Thus, there is scope to examine whether other EU-level policies with similar societal aims (falling within EU competence but not necessarily minority focused) could assist the wider aspirations of the mspi. Indeed, whilst its proposals aim at specific treaty articles relevant for protection and equality, the language of the campaign and indeed the Pact document is much broader.4 This includes terminology such as ‘preserve’, ‘develop’, ‘promoting identity’, ‘linguistic and cultural diversity’ and the need for a ‘pact between minorities and majorities’ to meet the aforementioned aims. Thus, there is scope to examine broader policy proposals which have similar societal aims and assess how these could be of relevance to the mspi.

One relevant policy which has grown in prominence in the past decade, both amongst scholars and political debate, is the concept of a Universal Basic Income (ubi). From a theoretical perspective, ubi has been explored through many disciplines beyond just economics, with sociologists, philosophers and more, contributing to the literature. The concept also exists as a policy proposal by campaign groups and even fringe political parties across Europe, albeit often thought of on a national level. Yet, a growing number of voices are suggesting a ubi on a pan-EU wide level. As the article will outline, the theoretical benefits and intentions of ubi overlap significantly with the broad aims of the mspi. However, these assume certain conditions which not all ubi proposals fulfil and thus it is insightful to also analyse specific EU-level ubi proposals and how they would affect the mspi, which would need to be enacted at the EU level. For this, two examples are used which offer a slight variation on funding mechanism, which could have an impact on the feasibility and political will – as is explained in consequent sections. First, a concept developed by philosopher Phillipe Van Parijs, one of the most prominent scholars writing on ubi, namely a ‘Euro-dividend’, and secondly a policy proposal by the pan-European political movement DiEM25 – a ‘Universal Basic Dividend’ to be enacted on an EU wide basis as part of a Green New Deal. This article consequently evaluates these two proposals and how they compare to the ubi theory in terms of potential effects on the aims of the mspi, and whether this policy using different EU competences could be of benefit to national minorities in the EU.

To this end, the first part is split into two subsections examining the empirical background and theory of the mspi and then ubi. This allows the reader to gain an overview of each, given that readership may well be very aware of one, but perhaps less of the other. Following this, an analytical section looks at the two combined, using a set of assessment criteria based on the most relevant dimensions of the mspi, in order to conduct the analysis in a coherent and consistent manner. This is expanded upon in the consequent section which outlines in detail the four areas of focus; living in homeland, learning in mother tongue, preservation and development of identity and culture, aiming for equality.

2 Conceptual and Theoretical Background

2.1 The Minority SafePack Initiative

2.1.1 An Overview of the Process from 2013 to Present Day

The mspi is an ongoing European Citizen’s Initiative sponsored by the fuen, an umbrella organisation which represents over 100 member organisations in 35 European countries. One of its core aims is to “represent the interests of the European minorities at regional, national and particularly European level”,5 to which purpose it has organised and sponsored the mspi. It has been a long process whereby the initiative was originally rejected by the Commission at the registration phase in 2013 but consequently that decision was overturned by the General Court of the European Union in 2017, allowing the initiative to finally be registered.6 The initial rejection was due to the proposed initiative being “manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers”, but the court overturned this on the grounds that the EU Commission failed to clarify which aspects of the mspi were not within EU competence and which were – thus not making it feasible for the organisers to alter and resubmit the citizens’ initiative.7 This court decision resulted in the EU Commission accepting the initiative minus two aspects (for which they deemed fell manifestly outside their powers) and therefore allowed the collection of signatures to begin in 2017 and the 1,000,000 target was fulfilled and exceeded by 2018; 1,128,385 signatures were officially validated reaching the national threshold in 11 EU member states.8 fuen, as organiser of the mspi, decided to delay submitting the certified signatures until the new EU Commission was formed in late 2019, on the grounds of scepticism towards the existing (now previous) Commission’s “good intentions regarding minority rights”.9 Therefore, the signatures were then submitted to the new EU Commission for validation in January 2020, where it is now awaiting a response10 – delayed due to the coronavirus.11

2.1.2 Analysis of the mspi Contents

It is useful to further unpack the reasons for the delay in this process and the implications it had. The lengthy process of drafting and having the mspi accepted by the EU Commission, through a court decision, was affected in a large part by issues surrounding EU-level competences. First of all, this aspect was central during the mspi drafting and fuen paid particular attention to ensure the mspi’s demands had legal grounding in the EU treaties.12 Given the EU’s limited competence in certain areas, such as welfare and redistribution, the mspi demands were somewhat limited in comparison to if they had been made at a national level – for example regarding establishing group rights. Of course, the reverse is also true and a major aim of the mspi is to bring EU-level minority protection that is currently missing.13 Yet, the scope remains to examine the mspi and ascertain whether there is an ability to enhance minority protection through complementary policies at the EU level and within EU competence. For this, the main focus of this article is therefore the broader demands and terminology of the mspi and the particular recurrent issues it highlights for minorities across the EU, with an aim to complement the existing demands through competences which are not necessarily seen as of direct minority relevance. Accordingly, the consequent paragraphs first analyse the documents used by fuen in the mspi campaign and those submitted to the EU Commission, to ascertain the key issues and then separate these into four core areas to be used as assessment criteria.

The first of the two primary sources used for this is the detailed 14-page mspi document submitted to the EU Commission originally in 2013 (and then used once the initiative was underway in 2017).14 This was then also summarised in a four page pdf used during the campaign and through the mspi campaign website.15 This shorter document features six statements and a longer text, which can be seen as the basis for the mspi legal requirements but worded more broadly. Indeed, the final paragraph reads as such:

We need a pact between minorities and majorities to create favorable conditions for linguistic and cultural diversity to thrive, to preserve and promote the identity of the minority communities, to stop their assimilation, to make them feel entirely at home on the territory where they have been living traditionally, to have a say in decisions that affect their lives, and to exercise autonomously their cultural, educational and linguistic rights.16

From this paragraph, the Pact document as a whole, and the full 14-page mspi document, the following core elements can be distinguished as stated aims:

  1. Living in a homeland;
  2. Learning in the mother tongue;
  3. Preservation and development of identity and culture;
  4. Aiming for equality.

These four areas will form broad assessment criteria under which theory and proposals of ubi can be analysed, bearing in mind the competences of the EU. To this end, it is useful to expand on the four categories and explain in detail how they are conceptualised in the mspi. It is of course to be borne in mind that these categories overlap and influence each other, thus neglecting/tackling one issue may hinder/aid another.

  1. Living in homeland: as detailed above, the mspi calls for minorities to be able to “feel entirely at home on the territory they have been living traditionally”.17 This of course has wider implications regarding levels of autonomy and links into preservation/development of culture and language and these tie into the consequent categories. But to focus directly on the physical aspect of living in one’s homeland, this relates to factors that might drive minorities elsewhere. Historically this has often been in a forced manner,18 but in the contemporary EU this is usually indirect – for instance having to move to urban areas for economic prosperity. This is a particular issue considering that national minorities often live in peripheral areas and border regions.19 As the mspi states “We have chosen to continue to live in our homeland”,20 but the reality is that this often either means an economic sacrifice to remain there or internal/cross-border migration elsewhere and sending remittances home to relatives. Furthermore, one of the factors relating to access of education for national minorities is the physical aspect and there are frequent reports of pupils having to travel further (commuting or relocating) to find education in their mother tongue if possible at all.21 One of the tools proposed by the mspi to combat these issues is regional state support, which under current laws could be restricted due to the EU’s state aid rules. Moreover, as previously mentioned, the EU does not have the competence to enforce group rights (such as a community’s right to live in one area) on its member states and thus the mspi largely focuses on individual rights such as cultural and linguistic.22 Therefore, the mspi calls for exemptions when concerning national minorities receiving assistance in areas which relate to the three further criteria below.23
  2. Learning in mother tongue: the mspi states that minorities should be able to use their mother tongue “in everyday life and in the administration” and expresses the desire that their children are “able to learn in their mother tongue in schools”.24 This is seen as a clear aspect of preserving and developing a minority (or kin-state) language, as well as the obvious intertwined nature this has with culture and identity. The current picture across the EU varies from state to state but there are often laws permitting or attempting to encourage learning in a minority language. However, as the monitoring cycles of the fcnm show,25 issues remain across the board even in areas where there has been substantial progress. Thus, the mspi calls for the EU to “adopt a systematic approach to its language and culture policy”, including to adjust funding programmes for small regional and minority language communities.26 For this, the mspi cites specific articles in the EU treaties relating to cultural and linguistic diversity,27 demonstrating again the demands are sticking only to what can be interpreted in existing EU competences. The mspi also suggests that “making small grants available for small communities can make a huge difference for linguistic diversity in Europe”.28 It also calls for the establishment of language diversity centres to be funded by the EU and to have a mandate to “raise awareness of the importance of linguistic diversity and language learning”.29
  3. Preservation and development of identity and culture: Closely connected to above, the preservation of identity and culture understandably involves linguistic aspects. As a result, the analysis of ubi through this assessment criterion will focus on the less-so-strictly-linguistic elements of identity and culture. For instance, the mspi calls specifically to preserve and develop culture and identity alongside language and stresses the communal aspect of this. It calls for the pact to “stop the assimilation” and “exercise autonomously their cultural, educational and linguistic rights”.30 This therefore involves avenues such as media and the ability to receive and disseminate in one’s own language, for which the mspi calls for an improvement in the access to neighbouring countries media within the EU, i.e. establishing a single market for audio-visual services – this could be especially relevant for minorities with kin states. Furthermore, the mspi requests that regional funding be made available for supporting and promoting cultural and linguistic diversity; whether that be through subsidising media outlets and mediums, in the education sector or general social policy.
  4. Aiming for equality: the mspi makes several direct and indirect references to the concept of equality. It calls for equal rights as EU citizens in areas which relate to the above (culture, language, identity), as well as focusing on equality in terms of legal anti-discrimination. Indeed, it has been suggested that anti-discrimination on an individual level is an area which was prioritised by the mspi as opposed to group rights, due to the strong competence the EU has in the former.31 Thus, the mspi requests the strengthening of anti-discrimination legislation across the EU as well as support for stateless minorities, in particular Roma. Overall, there is a strong focus on improving the situation of minorities by reducing the discrimination they face, whether this be institutionally or in everyday life. Furthermore, aiming for equality also implies reducing inequalities – of which economic is an obviously significant factor, especially so in certain minority situations and in the context of discrimination. In its calls for regional funding, the mspi mentions the need for “strengthening economic and social development and territorial cohesion”,32 highlighting that minorities often live in peripheral areas which are economically worse off than the majority.

2.2 Universal Basic Income

The concept of a ubi has grown in policy and academic debates particularly post-2008 global financial crisis, with a multitude of theoretical benefits suggested beyond simply a tool to fight poverty. This section provides an overview of the concept as well as its suggested benefits, first outlining a textbook definition. Of course, of most relevance for this article is ubi proposals on an EU-wide scale, which differ in their approach due to the limited competences of the EU with regard to welfare and redistribution. This angle will be first covered in the definition and overview of ubi, outlining ubi funding sources which could also be applied to the EU-level, before two consequent subsections on existing EU-wide ubi proposals.33 It is important to distinguish how these two proposals differ from the academic theory which usually envisages ubi on a national scale, because this affects what possible benefits it could bring and also what funding resources are available within EU competence. Finally, a short summary (section 2.2.4) is then provided to form a basis for consequent analysis on how these three types of basic income would function in the context of the mspi and the four assessment criteria previously outlined.

2.2.1 Definition and Practicalities

ubi is referred to by a number of names which have differing but often overlapping implications. Terms such as ‘unconditional basic income’, ‘citizens basic income’, ‘universal basic dividend’, ‘guaranteed minimum income’, and just plainly ‘basic income’ have all been used in literature, but at the broad theoretical level ‘universal basic income’ tends to be the most common term used, and thus is the term used in this article. This article assumes ubi as a “universal payment made periodically to all members of a given society, that should be unconditional and of a financial amount high enough to cover the basic needs of an individual”.34 To expand on a few of the terms mentioned, “periodically” is usually felt to mean monthly although there are proposals on an annual or even once in a lifetime basis. However, most scholars and indeed specific proposals and empirical trials have concluded that a monthly payment is the most optimal to bring about the intended benefits. “To all members of a given society” refers to the universal and unconditional aspects, whereby all individuals should receive the ubi regardless of their income/wealth or any demographics such as age – thus no means testing and no discrimination. Usually, ubi is discussed on a national scale within a sovereign state and as such many of the suggested benefits are considered in this context. This is borne in mind in the consequent subsections and analysis, discussing how feasible textbook ubi theory is on an EU scale. Within national level proposals, there would likely need to be some limitations on residency/citizenship, but this should be as open as possible whilst bearing in mind migration aspects – for instance the Permanent Fund Dividend in Alaska stipulates at least one-year residency.35 An EU level proposal would entail a different dimension of migration and this aspect is discussed further below. “High enough to meet basic needs” has been interpreted in different ways, advocates on the left see ubi as an addition to other forms of welfare and those on the political right see it as an opportunity to streamline government spending.36 However, most scholars suggest that a full ubi would replace many existing benefit/welfare payments such as unemployment benefit, minimum state pension, universal child allowances, etc. Yet a partial ubi could of course complement existing welfare payments and this is something both EU-level proposals outlined below focus on.

In terms of the intention of a ubi, this also varies across the literature. It is seen as a tool of social and redistributive justice,37 in a manner that increases individual freedom,38 but also as a method of alleviating poverty.39 Moreover, these aspects of ubi have been specifically explored in the context of marginalised or minority communities.40 In addition, scholars envisage ubi as a tool of lowering discrimination in the existing welfare system,41 but also in a libertarian vein in terms of reducing government intrusion42 – with obvious links to increasing freedom. Finally, as mentioned above, ubi is also seen as a tool of streamlining government spending by eradicating/reducing the varying administrative departments processing and monitoring welfare payments.43 These aspects obviously have overlapping features, and the areas of core relevance to the mspi will be expanded upon in the analysis section below.

Regarding the financing of a ubi, myriad sources have been suggested; from traditional forms of welfare revenue such as income taxation or sales tax and the general pool of government funds, to more specific sources of wealth.44 However, it is the financing aspect which needs closest attention paid to in the context of an EU-level basic income, due to the limited competences the bloc has for generating revenue. Traditional welfare redistribution, such as through an income tax system, would fall outside the current legal competences of the EU. Yet, some of the more specific types of wealth could be collected through existing or less politically troublesome forms of revenue – to be outlined below. ubi literature has already began to explore the difference between an ‘income’ and a ‘dividend’, both in terms of narrative but also what this means for funding sources. Whereas income is largely associated with labour (or replacements for labour such as unemployment benefits) for the majority of the population, a dividend refers to receiving a stake or share or something – much like being a shareholder in a company or, in the case of Alaska, a share of oil wealth. Indeed, the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend is one unique example of a partial basic income funded as a dividend through a sovereign wealth fund, which Angela Cummine describes as the optimal way to share the benefits of a communal wealth source.45 Clearly, in the case of the EU, oil revenues are not a viable wealth source but there are other ‘communal’ wealth sources which could be seen as an EU-wide resource and already be within the scope of existing competences. Peter Barnes has outlined this in the context of the USA, at a federal level, listing a variety of potential communal wealth sources (both natural and man-made), which could collectively form the basis to pay a ubi.46 Barnes includes sources such as carbon taxation, financial transaction taxation (ftt), intellectual property protection fees, electromagnetic spectrum usage charges, as well as value added tax (vat); which he calculates could raise around usd 5,000 per year.47 Clearly, different jurisdictions will have different revenue sources, as demonstrated by the case of Alaska and oil. It is useful therefore to contextualise this in the EU in more detail.

In the context of the EU, a few of the revenue sources Barnes outlines for the USA have already been explored by the EU Commission itself or by academic scholars, whereas others will need to be more speculative at this stage. Firstly, the concept of financialising carbon emissions has already been enacted in the form of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ets),48 demonstrating that this is clearly an EU competence to do so. The existing system, which functions as a cap and trade scheme, has been greatly criticised for its ineffectiveness despite the reforms that have been made.49 Thus, there are suggestions that a carbon taxation system may be preferable.50 One option with the revenue from this would be to redirect it to the citizens in the form of a dividend. Secondly, the idea of an ftt has already been proposed by the EU Commission initially in 2011,51 and although at first rejected by the EU Finance Ministers, as of 2020 the plan is back on the table in the context of the covid-19 response,52 with optimism that it will be achieved under the German presidency of the Council of the EU. For the purposes of this article, it is sufficient to state that this offers evidence that an ftt could be achieved by the EU and if pursued or enhanced to a more progressive rate, could offer a substantial revenue to be added to a universal basic dividend fund. Other possible angles include electromagnetic spectrum charges, in line with the EU beginning to harmonise radio spectrum for example.53 Regarding intellectual property rights, there are already regulations at the EU level concerning areas of this. For example, a dual system exists for trademarks allowing an EU level registration,54 whereby there is perhaps scope to utilise these funds as part of a dividend. Even proposals such as the digital services tax could be used; in short, the EU has the competence and finance to fund a ubi, at least in a partial form.55 DiEM25’s universal basic dividend proposal, detailed in section 2.2.3 below, specifies this in more depth through a number of the EU-level funding resources above. To summarise, there is a host of areas in which the EU already has competence which could be used to fund an EU level sovereign wealth fund through which to pay a ubi. Some of these are fairly concrete and have potential for substantial revenues, whilst others are more speculative but still serve to demonstrate the broader possibilities.

2.2.2 Euro-dividend

The Euro-dividend was a term first used by philosopher Phillipe Van Parijs, who has been one of the prominent ubi scholars since the early 1990s.56 It has since been picked up by Europhile ubi advocates across the continent and found its way into other consequent literature.57 In Van Parijs’ words, the Euro-dividend proposal consists of “paying a modest basic income to every legal resident of the European Union”, although he also stipulates that it could be limited to just Eurozone countries.58 Whilst discussing a number of funding options, for instance an EU corporation tax or carbon taxation, Van Parijs concludes that vat is the most viable due to the EU competence and ease of harmonisation. vat is an indirect taxation as opposed to income or property and thus there is more legal scope for the EU Commission to act (in a similar vein to the digital services tax proposals).59 Van Parijs acknowledges that carbon tax could be more desirable but suggests the funds would not be adequate, whilst personal income tax would not be politically popular or easy to harmonise.60 Thus, his suggestion is a harmonised vat base rate of around 20%, and that the payment could vary from country to country in relation to the cost of living, as well as varying within an age demographic bracket – with young people receiving less. Although Van Parijs did not state in his original Euro-dividend text an amount, he has added in consequent texts61 and interviews that this could initially be eur 200 a month, acting as an unconditional floor and not a reduction of existing benefits.62 Similarly, the Unconditional Basic Income Europe movement suggests that a figure of eur 250 for a Euro-dividend would be a good starting point.63 However, Van Parijs also speculates that this figure could be increased to as much as eur 500 for pensioners or eur 100 for under 10s, depending on what would be desirable and affordable.64 For the analysis in this article, the universal figure of eur 200/250 for all will be considered.

Van Parijs separates his justifications for the Euro-dividend into four core reasons: interstate migration, interstate transfers, free movement within the EU, and the legitimacy of the EU.65 In arguing along the lines of interstate migration and transfers, Van Parijs contrasts the EU to the USA where there is much higher interstate migration. He suggests that linguistic barriers are a significant reason to this, and that redistribution can compensate for this and encourage migration. However, it is important to point out that this opinion is not unanimous and a ubi need not necessarily encourage migration, particularly in individuals who may have specific reasons for not wanting to leave their homeland – such as national minorities.66 On interstate transfers, Van Parijs states that due to fewer net transfers between EU member states, there is less of a buffering mechanism against economic downturns, but a Euro-dividend would be more modest than developing an “EU-wide mega welfare state”.67 Continuing his comparison to the USA, Van Parijs suggests than due to the EU being more linguistically and culturally diverse, it is more costly for individual to move – both in terms of reduced benefits and increased costs. He extends this to the member states receiving economic migrants and suggests that the situation would be more stable and digestible if the economic pull factor of migration was reduced by providing a Euro-dividend. Consequently, this would be more politically sustainable and socio-economically efficient as well as helping to preserve existing peripheral communities by reducing the incentive to leave, thus somewhat contrasting his point on interstate migration, particularly if one interprets this in the context of the mspi. Similarly, on free movement, Van Parijs states that the four freedoms of the single market have “eroded member states capacity to perform redistributive tasks”. To address this, Van Parijs argues that the European market needs to “operate on a foundation of something like a Euro-dividend” in order to combat the obsession with competition that member states are currently engaging in. Then finally on the reason of legitimacy, he discusses the image that sovereign governments and citizens often have of the EU as lacking legitimacy. A Euro-dividend, according to him, would offer a very tangible policy which would show the EU is doing something for all of its citizens rather than just the elites and circles around Brussels. He uses the example of Bismarck and his unified Germany, suggesting that the EU can use a Euro-dividend policy to increase its legitimacy across all of the peripheral and working-class sections of the block.

There is of course opposition to such a project, not least from general Eurosceptics and those of a firm intergovernmental approach to the EU, sceptical of moving towards federalism or too much supranational policies. This involves objections on the grounds of fairness and not wishing to give people ‘something for nothing’, but Van Parijs counters this by highlighting the benefits of European integration, both historical in terms of post wwii peace but also ongoing in terms of economic aspects. His point here is that the financial benefits of this are not fairly distributed at present and a Euro-dividend would go some way to rectifying this. Further, he also points out that other criticism will point towards more progressive or complex targeted funding options, but this undermines the simplicity of a ubi or Euro-dividend and the lower costs and higher visibility that is associated with that. Furthermore, several ubi scholars have argued that a figure which does not meet basic needs (as the eur 200 Euro-dividend would not) would be too low to constitute a ubi and the theoretical benefits this would bring. A Euro-dividend would thus be only a partial income but perhaps a steppingstone towards a full ubi, creating the institutional mechanism which could be built upon in terms of monthly amount.

2.2.3 DiEM25’s Universal Basic Dividend

One of the other concrete proposals for an EU-wide ubi is proposed by the political movement Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25). With former Greek finance minister Yannis Veroufakis as the movement’s figurehead, the group describes itself as a “pan-European, cross-border movement of democrats” and recently stood as a party in the 2019 European Parliament elections in Germany and with its MeRA25 party in Greece. The movement does not specifically define itself in terms of a political positioning on the right-left spectrum, but regularly states that Europe needs a ‘new left’68 and its diagnosis and proposed solutions can be seen as socialist/radical left-wing and are supported by similar political parties and activists across Europe.69 One of the proposed solutions is the introduction of a ‘Green New Deal’,70 referred to also as a ‘New Deal for Europe’ in its European Spring programme for the 2019 European Union Parliament elections,71 for which it explicitly mentioned the concept of a ubi and its stance towards it. This white paper states that DiEM25 rejects the idea of a ubi if funded by taxes and proposes instead a Universal Basic Dividend (ubd) to be funded by returns to capital – this will be developed below. However, there are some strong similarities and DiEM25 clarifies that it foresees the ubd being paid to “every citizen”.72 Although the funding mechanism is described in detail, DiEM25 does not specify in its Green New Deal an intended amount or the frequency of such payments, but in the European Spring programme it states that “each year, the Fund will distribute a Universal Citizen Dividend that allows each and every citizen to enjoy the fruits of economic activity”, something which it states would be the “first step toward the creation of a universal basic income”. Thus, it is a little unclear what its specific proposal would be or the amount; it can be assumed to be a partial income and for the purposes of this analysis possibly similar in range to that of the Euro-dividend. What is most important for the purposes of this article and how a ubi would relate to a mspi is the funding mechanism/sources, for which DiEM25’s proposal offers a clear differentiation from Van Parijs’ Euro-dividend.

DiEM25 rejects the idea of using income taxation to fund a ubi on the grounds that it would “undermine the existing welfare state and sow the seeds of antagonism between the working poor and the unemployed”.73 Instead it would fund its ubd through return to capital into a European Equity Depository, previously referred to as a Commons Capital Depository.74 This would essentially act as an independent fund similar to a sovereign wealth fund – such as in Alaska or Norway – and be owned by the citizens, which in this case would be EU-wide. The depository would be funded by profits from existing central bank assets, shares from corporate ipo s “especially for companies that commercialise technology developed from public funding”,75 plus a pan-European inheritance tax and pan-European carbon tax.76 Thus, it would not use sales taxes, income taxes or corporation taxes. The depository would then pay a dividend to all citizens, which seemingly would be annually. DiEM25 also stresses that this should not replace any existing welfare payments or unemployment insurance. Here, it is obviously more in line with existing EU competences, as discussed above, and therefore potentially more viable than the Euro-dividend as a complement to the mspi.

The key differential between the Euro-dividend and DiEM25’s ubd is thus the narrative around the funding, stating that “it shouldn’t be people paying themselves; nor companies paying for something extra”.77 An interview with Varoufakis in 2017 summarises this logic and is worth quoting at length:

DiEM25 is against the idea of a Universal Basic Income that is funded through taxation. Because if you tax workers so that other workers don’t work and sit on their couch – and they have a right to do this and watch television whereas others are working for them – this is corrosive politics. It is going to turn one segment of the working class against another. And especially if it’s a universal income – the rich get it as well – why should a poor person pay taxes for a rich person to receive additional income to the mountains of money that they already have? … This is the fundamental distinction: fund a universal basic dividend – but not from taxation, but from the returns of capital – and that’s DiEM25’s position.78

Thus, it can be observed that DiEM25 is conscious of any programmes that will seem to pit the rich against the poor or the unemployed against the working – an analysis very much along class lines. However, it is possible to view similarities between minority and majority communities and the idea of creating a pact between the two as opposed to pitting them against one another. This is developed further in the analysis section below.

2.2.4 ubi Summary

The three subsections above have shown that ubi differs from the general theory to the specific EU proposals, but some key aspects are retained throughout. Both EU proposals are universal and unconditional in their reach and this ensures that they meet the theoretical benefits that come with universality and the removal of means-testing. This also differentiates both policy proposals from almost all of the empirical cases or trials of ubi to date, which have mostly used selected groups with a limited number of participants or have been saturation sites at a village or town level only. In terms of the amount proposed and the frequency of payment there are differences between the two, likewise regarding (and as a result of) funding mechanisms which also differ. The Euro-dividend suggests a figure of around eur 200–250, on a monthly basis, whilst the Universal Basic Dividend does not specify details – however, based on the information that is given, it seems likely that this would be of a similar low amount but possibly on an annual basis.79 Thus, both policies cannot be viewed as adequate to take care of all basic needs, either monthly or annually. This means that several of the core theoretical benefits will not be met; it will not be enough to replace income from work or existing work replacement welfare. The analysis below develops this further, in terms of what effect a partial universal income can have, particularly when considering at a family or community level.

In terms of funding mechanisms, these are the two key differences between the two EU-wide policies analysed and indeed the justification for comparing the two. General ubi theory often does not indicate a specific funding mechanism to be used (in favour of another), but, as the subsections above demonstrate, the normative understanding and social acceptance could vary greatly depending on how the funds are obtained. Van Parijs states that the Euro-dividend would promote solidarity as it would be funded through an extra (sales) tax which all EU citizens would pay, whereas DiEM25 and Varoufakis suggest that using such income streams would lead to pitting segments of society against one another. Their suggestion is to use profits from capital, which have been facilitated by the overall wealth of society, and then provide a dividend to be channelled through an EU-wide sovereign wealth fund co-owned by all citizens. The idea here seems to be to take away the emphasis of taking one person’s hard-earned money and giving it to another, rather providing everyone with a share of a society’s prosperity. These normative differences could play a key role in whether a ubi is a popular policy or not. Moreover, the universal basic dividend proposes revenue streams which are more in line with EU competences, thus this may be a more logical proposal to follow for the mspi.

3 Analysis: The mspi and ubi

Using the four assessment criteria outlined in section 2.1, this analytical section unpacks the three differing ubi policies that formed section 2.2 and what effect they could have on national minorities – individually and at the community level. Each subsection therefore contains separate paragraphs for each proposal as well as a short summary.

3.1 Living in Homeland

If paid at a level where an individual or family could meet their basic needs, then a ubi has the potential to prevent or reduce the need for migration within a state or to a neighbouring state in search for employment. Whilst, Van Parijs discusses the potential migratory effect the Euro-dividend could facilitate, it can also be argued that this could work in reverse – particularly if concerning a demographic for whom living in one’s homeland is of particular priority – as the mspi suggests is the case for national minorities. In this vein, the list of freedoms which Guy Standing claims a (full) ubi would facilitate is useful to interpret specifically with national minorities in mind. Standing lists a variety of employment related aspects including the freedom to take a job which “could not be accepted if financial necessity dictated”, as well as mentioning freedom to be self-employed, to volunteer, or to pursue other non-profitable work related activities.80 Given that economic marginalisation is a recurrent issue in national minority communities across the EU (also evidenced by the call for reducing economic inequality mentioned in the ‘aiming for equality’ assessment criterion above), and that such communities are often in peripheral areas away from economic centres or capital cities, a form of economic redistribution and security is likely to increase the choice to stay in one’s homeland. This obviously should not be over-interpreted; even a generous (full) ubi is not going to make it desirable for all to simply give up work. However, it could facilitate part-time work or allow one family member to stay at home – with potential knock-on effects of staying in education or re-training. In short, it would provide more flexibility and increased freedom for individuals, of which one choice could be to remain in one’s homeland (when previously not financially viable, as Guy Standing suggests). This could also be the case in terms of cross-border migration, in both directions. National minorities residing next to a less-economically prosperous kin-state may now have more financial means to choose their position, whilst in the other direction minorities may have the finance to remain in their home territory rather than being economically forced to move to a more prosperous kin-state. In this sense, a ubi could begin to uncouple minority identity and economic insecurity, as Wolf and Willis discuss.81

Furthermore, the universal aspect would ensure that everyone (minority and majority) living in an area would also have their basic needs taken care of and, in the case of peripheral towns and regions, this could have a substantial effect on a community rather than just the individual level. If those belonging to a national minority have an increased capacity to choose lower paying jobs (or volunteer positions) in their homeland, facilitated by having their incomes secured or supplemented through a ubi, then there could be significant consequent effects for language usage and cultural identity – currently threatened when large numbers of a minority community are migrating out of the traditional homeland for work. Thus, there is potential for a ubi to bring about community level change through an individually focused policy. In this sense, a ubi on an EU-level could bring a group/collective aspect which is lacking under the current mspi proposals limited by strict EU competence. However, as the following paragraph unpacks, the likely lower monthly amount this would entail might come at the cost of losing the theoretical benefits of a full ubi.

The key difference between a full ubi (under which the above analysis is framed) and the two EU-wide policy proposals is the amount to which basic needs are taken care of. An amount of eur 200–250 a month is below the minimum wage in every EU member state. Thus, for the most part it will not be enough to provide full economic freedom and the increased choices that would come with this. However, in many parts of the EU this would constitute a substantial amount of a monthly wage, especially when factoring it in on a family level.82 A family of four would receive eur 800–1,000 a month (if paid equally to adults and children). This could be the difference between a bread-winner having to leave their family and search for work in an urban centre or more prosperous country, being able to remain in their home region and survive on a lower wage or part-time position. Analysing this specifically in a national minority context, it is clear that this could affect certain minority communities more than others, for example those in the 2004/2007 EU expansion member states. For example, in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, all of which have large national minority communities (including the particularly marginalised Roma groups), as well as much lower gdp than western and northern EU member states, an EU-level basic income could have a substantial effect in reducing the need for many members of one family to migrate for economic purposes and instead facilitate larger numbers remaining in their traditional homelands. This of course has cultural and linguistic effects as well and therefore is of relevance to the assessment criteria analysed below.

In terms of differentiating the Euro-dividend from DiEM25’s Universal Basic Dividend, the key aspect would be the normative acceptance of the policy, for which the latter could be more popular with society at large (the ‘majority’ population when viewing this through a minority lens). If sold as a policy that is an equal share of society’s wealth, then there could be less of a resistance to population in the peripheral region or people of a national minority ‘getting something for nothing’ at the expense of others. Similarly, funding sources such as a carbon tax could be seen as a source which has its foundations across the whole country or EU-wide, rather than seen as taking money from economic hubs. A remaining aspect is that there may be resistance on grounds of fairness, based on a narrative that larger economies are contributing more wealth than others. However, it seems likely that this would be far less pronounced than if funding through a very tangible taxation – such as on sales as Van Parijs proposes, or indeed income tax in the case of some national level ubi proposals.

3.2 Learning in Your Mother Tongue

The ubi literature makes less obvious reference to language but there are discussions of education, in theory and as evidence from past trials. Currently, when pupils reach adult age there can often be a (short-term) financial gain to be made by leaving education and working instead. Furthermore, in certain communities this pressure extends to teenagers and even younger children – a recurring case with Roma – and parents keen for their offspring to start contributing to the household budget. A ubi that would be universally paid to children as well would reduce this by supplementing a family’s income. A certain amount of evidence of this has occurred in various ubi trials, such as in the 1970s USA and Canada trials and in India 2008 trials where education attendance rates increased.83 In addition, Guy Standing suggests that one method through which a ubi would increase freedom is in learning new skills and competences – implying an extension of education possibilities into adulthood.84 Whilst these elements concern education in general, they clearly do not immediately have a direct impact on the ability to learn in mother tongue for members of a minority. The links with ubi are thus more indirect but nonetheless could be significant on an individual and community level. Some examples where this may have an effect include: instances where minorities have high dropout rates even where mother tongue learning is available; instances where minorities do not attend school and thus the authorities do not feel the need to provide mother tongue learning for them; instances where minority populations have had to move away from their homeland area for work and into an area where mother tongue education is not available for them. Moreover, there may be an effect in terms of supply, particularly in areas relying on supplementary classes taught by volunteers for mother tongue learning. As Standing suggests, the freedom to volunteer would be increased by a ubi85 – this has also been theoretically applied in the case of minority language instruction and the potential for more teachers to provide their time.86 These minority specific elements suggest that a full ubi could assist in reducing the educational burden that belonging to a minority often brings – at least the economic aspects of this. This would not directly meet the mspi calls for legislation to strengthen linguistic diversity and the ability to learn in mother tongue for national minorities, and there will obviously be a need for increased finance – for which the mspi calls for small grants to be made available. However, a full ubi may replace the need for such small grants, as well as providing the financial security which would allow individuals to give more of their time to a community cause – something which could also help with regard to the language diversity centres the mspi wishes to see created. Thus, a ubi could here complement the mspi legislative demands.

The Euro-dividend in its smaller size would only be able to partially cover the basic needs of individuals and thus diminish such potential of a ubi to provide the financial freedom to stay or return to education. However, as outlined in the subsection above, in the context of many eastern European countries, eur 200–250 for teenage high-school students could well be a substantial amount of what they could earn from employment. It would certainly replace a part-time income and thus allow a pupil to concentrate on their studies rather than work; a similar situation could also occur at university level. This would facilitate an increased level of individual choice which can again have community level effects. Regarding Van Parijs’ point on migration, the extent to which a ubi would alter migration across the EU would depend on income levels; it seems likely that a level of eur 200 a month would not be sufficient to stop inter and intra state migration – although, as mentioned in the above section, on a family of four basis it may go some way. However, these aspects presuppose that mother tongue learning is already available and provided by the state. In instances where it is not provided, the Euro-dividend could allow certain individuals to reduce their working hours and have more free time to provide volunteer lessons – which certain minority communities rely on to bridge the gap left by the state. This is obviously not ideal and the demands of the mspi are much stronger, but it would be a start in the absence of alternative solutions.

Again, the difference with the Universal Basic Dividend is mostly the narrative and of course plausibility of EU competence. However, if paid annually it would appear less like a wage supplement and therefore possibly less likely to allow individuals to reduce their work hours or increase their focus on education (learning or teaching). Thus, for these purposes it would seem that a monthly payment would be more preferable. Further, because of its funding mechanism, it is possible that a dividend may be seen as more equally deserving across the EU and therefore have greater support from majority populations who may be reluctant to see their national level funds go directly towards subsidising a minority language education.

3.3 Preservation and Development of Identity and Culture

One of the main manners in which ubi could affect identity and culture is through facilitating a possible transformation of work, or more precisely existing types of paid employment such as mundane or unfulfilling jobs, or indeed jobs out of the homeland or minority cultural sphere. Thus, many of the points made in the ‘living in homeland’ subsection apply in this minority specific assessment criterion too. Interpreting Standing’s claim that ubi could increase “the freedom to do creative work and activities of all kinds”,87 into the context of national minorities preserving their identity and culture, such freedom could involve participation, volunteering, or entrepreneurship, in activities relating to cultural heritage – dance, choir, sports, etc., or participating in language groups – as a teacher or student. Currently, an argument could be made that volunteerism is limited to those with financial means to support themselves, therefore a ubi could open this up to a wider pool across the economic class spectrum – with obviously larger effects therefore on economically marginalised groups, as national minorities often are. Furthermore, it may also provide time for more individuals to be more engaged in their local minority language media; directly through having increased time for reading and writing, but also indirectly in terms of the increase in cultural activities which could provide such news stories.

Wolf and Willis explore group identity further in the context of national minorities and suggest that, through a ubi, minority identity would become somewhat uncoupled from economic insecurity. This would then allow individuals the choice of minority identity “without facing the economic consequences that such a choice might otherwise have due to discriminatory practices”.88 This notion has already been mentioned above in the subsection on living in homeland; if there is less economic pressure to migrate from their homeland, more individuals will be able to remain and preserve group culture and identity together. Furthermore, it indeed also strongly relates further to the consequent subsection on equality and non-discrimination, yet its relevance in terms of preservation and development of identity and culture should be borne in mind – especially with marginalised minority communities.

Whilst Van Parijs recognises the linguistic and cultural diversity of the EU and this leading to a more costly relocation process than in the USA, his suggestions is that the Euro-dividend could ease this process and facilitate intra-state migration. However, as this article indicated in subsection 2.2, in the specific context of national minorities this can be interpreted in the opposite direction. Van Parijs’ suggestion might be of relevance for the EU population at large but for specific groups which want to preserve their culture and language, the freedom of choice which a higher income produces can be instead used to remain in one’s homeland and preserve one’s culture. This provides further evidence of ubi being a policy enacted on an individual basis but with potential for large community effects – in this sense preserving group identity and culture. To provide a minority specific example of this, one can consider a national minority community living mostly in a peripheral border region which may be enticed to move to an economic urban hub (either in their state or across a border to a kin-state). Whether an EU-level ubi of eur 200–250 a month would be enough to provide the necessary economic security to facilitate this choice is another question, but, as discussed above, in the less economically developed EU member states with many and large minority populations, it could be a significant amount.

3.4 Aiming for Equality

Although a ubi would not bring the legislative guarantees of equal rights in terms of culture, language, and identity that the mspi calls for, there are some indirect areas in which it could have an effect. One core aspect concerns the notion of social stigma, where ubi scholars have written in detail about the issues with existing welfare systems and how this could be altered by a ubi. Peter Barnes suggests that existing systems can lead to a domestic class warfare, with those in receipt of benefits seen as ‘economic losers’ and thus a situation whereby “those who don’t get benefits resent those who do, and those who do feel bad about themselves”.89 Malcolm Torry also discusses this idea in detail and concludes that existing benefit systems lack dignity90 – a point which also relates to government intrusion, developed below. In the specific context of national minorities, where across Europe these are often economically marginalised communities, it is easy to see how such narratives occur – especially given the heightened saliency of the differences if they are along ethnic or linguistic lines. Thus, if wishing to increase equality and reduce discrimination, addressing the existing deficiencies of the welfare system is a necessity. In this context, a ubi would treat everyone equally and in its universal nature be non-discriminatory in that sense. It could also shift the narrative of certain communities being ‘takers’ from society and could be the grounds for a pact between majority and minority, especially if sold as equally distributing communal wealth – as the intention of the Universal Basic Dividend would be.

A further related issue is the notion of government intrusion and the possibilities for institutional discrimination that arise. A number of ubi scholars pick up on this point and suggest that existing benefit systems can be excessively intrusive and often open to discrimination given the discretion afforded to case workers of welfare.91 Further, Standing outlines that a shift to lower government intrusion could be appealing to the political right and left, in a libertarian sense.92 In the case of national minorities where it has often been previously documented that individuals have faced direct and indirect discrimination in such systems,93 a full ubi would substantially reduce the opportunity for this type of discrimination and ensure that those who need an income floor will definitely receive it and in a dignified non-intrusive manner.

In a broader sense of equality, ubi has the reduction of economic inequalities as one of its central aims and, whilst the mspi calls for equality in general between majority and minority communities, economic inequality is often a significant factor. For individuals of minority communities which are disproportionality marginalised compared to the national or EU average (in terms of wealth/income), it is obvious that if a policy such as ubi achieves its aim of reducing overall inequality then members of minorities would gain from this – as would a community as a whole. National minorities in particular find themselves in such positions due to discrimination (institutionally and by the labour market) as well as by often being in peripheral locations. Thus, lowering the risk of economic security not only reduces inequalities of material conditions of minorities in relation to the majority, but also reduces the structural discrimination of having to face insecurity in the first place.

Specifically on the EU-level, Van Parijs discusses general inequality in the context of the single market and the migration pressures that exist, as well as suggesting that a Euro-dividend would help as a buffering mechanism during economic downturns (such as the Eurozone crisis) and avoid the necessity of large transfers between member states which often do not trickle down to help those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. So in this sense, national minorities, who are not economically deprived within their state but are in comparison to the whole EU, would also benefit from the wider equalising effects of a Euro-dividend – of course even more so if it was paid at a higher rate than the eur 200–250 that is proposed. Similarly, DiEM25 also aims at a principle of European solidarity with its Universal Basic Dividend proposal. The suggestion is that this would contribute towards an agenda of liberty and equality, as well as to “bridge hitherto irreconcilable political blocs” and stabilise society.94 This has economic, social and political implications and demonstrates how they view ubi as part of a transformative policy agenda. It can also be easily interpreted in instances where national minorities are engaged in political or societal conflict against the majority, and are, as the MSPI identifies, in need of a pact.

4 Conclusions

The above analysis demonstrates that there are certainly similarities between the suggested benefits of ubi and the broad goals of the mspi, although the effectiveness could vary significantly depending on the specific amount provided by a ubi. Each of the four assessment criteria of the mspi’s goals for minority protection would be affected by a ubi and there are of course many overlapping elements that would be mutually beneficial – again dependent on the amount provided. Further, it should be highlighted that this effectiveness would be diminished if ubi was used as a right-libertarian excuse to eradicate all existing benefits. It should be viewed as additional to many targeted policy funds and universal welfare such as education and healthcare, which if enacted on an EU-level within the competences discussed in section 2.2, it would be. In addition, the narrative and levels of social acceptance could be vastly different depending on the funding mechanism, either on a national or EU-level. In terms of amount, it is obvious that a higher amount would be preferable and more effective in terms of ubi’s emancipatory potential, but with this comes the challenge of securing enough funds within EU competence and also keeping redistribution accepted by majority and minority. Thus, a full ubi on a national level would likely have the most impact, yet this is not of core relevance (or competence) in the context of the EU and the mspi. However, taking the funding mechanism outlined by DiEM25, which would be broadly within EU competence, a universal dividend of EUR200/250 per month could still have a significant impact for minorities in certain EU member states, yet will not have the same effects for minorities in Western Europe – thus the support for such a policy within the pan-European minority community, such as fuen, would be likely to vary.

Further, in terms of format, it would seem most effective to pay a monthly amount as opposed to an annual payment to ensure it is a regular income – even if this differs from the common method of a shareholder dividend payment. The proposal by DiEM25 to use a sovereign wealth fund to redistribute capital wealth as opposed to income taxation appears to have benefits regarding social acceptance but the challenge will be to raise enough funds to provide a meaningful dividend. Using Peter Barnes’ proposals for the USA, section 2.2 outlined a variety of potential EU-level funding sources, such as a carbon tax and a financial transactions tax, developed further also by DiEM25, all of which come within existing EU competence or are within the realms of reasonable feasibility (unlike income tax). Thus, a ubi funded through these sources could add benefits to the minority issues and inequalities the mspi seeks to address, whilst using different EU competences than possible within the narrower scope of the mspi.

In terms of opposition to ubi, one of the common rebuttals is that the funds could be used for more targeted policies and thus be more effective to those most in need. This is possibly the case, but as advocates of a ubi have argued, this goal is undermined by ineffective and costly administration, personal intrusion and the incentive traps created by conditionality. Furthermore, it misses the fairness of universality and in the case of the mspi would not constitute a pact, and thus such policies are open to criticism of one group subsidising another – a harder political sell. Thus, a narrative of distributing an equal share of societal wealth instead of a welfare transfer may suit majority/minority relations – both within and between EU member states.

There are of course limitations to ubi and it is certainly not a silver bullet to fix all problems, nor does it claim to be. Moreover, it may be argued that a national level ‘full’ ubi would be more effective, and this may well be the case if possible, but it seems extremely unlikely that all 27 member states will enact a ubi. Thus, in this same way that the mspi seeks to address minority issues and insecurities which are prevalent across the bloc, an EU-wide ubi could have wider reaching benefits for a greater number of communities. In addition, if enacted, this may well lead the way for a national level debate on what can be considered as societal wealth, and there could be consequent additional member state level universal dividend payments. Again, concerning limitations, it is clear that a ubi would only assist certain goals of the mspi and there is certainly a need for the strengthening of legislation and targeted action concerning national minorities across the EU. That is why a ubi should be seen as additional to the existing demands of the mspi and not to replace or exclude them, and this position is given legitimacy by the fact that it would use different EU resources and competences than the mspi currently targets. Together the policy proposals in the mspi with a ubi on top, could have a transformative effect on the lives of minorities – individually and as a community – by providing legal strength, normative shifts, and an increased economic capacity to increase freedom of choice and reduce the economic insecurity attached to minority identity.

Finally, it should be restated that an EU-wide ubi would encompass a much larger debate affecting the whole of society, and this debate is unlikely to focus on national minorities in particular. Progressive and redistributive policies have continued to increase since the 2008 financial crash, enhanced also by the climate crisis and now the covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, these debates also contain an element of perceived injustice of economic inequality and private ownership of public goods, with a communal wealth funded ubi one suggested remedy for this. Therefore, it is evident that ubi is a debate which continues to be part of many conversations and will likely be so in the EU too, as political parties continue to advocate for at least trialling a ubi. This debate will go on regardless of whether minority organisations pay attention or not, therefore one of the aims of this article is to highlight the relevance of ubi to minority communities and suggest that they could benefit by adding their voice to such debates. Likewise, ubi advocates should be aware of the potential support that minority organisations could bring.


T. Hoch Jovanovic, ‘Europeanisation’, in. T.H. Malloy (ed.) Minority Issues in Europe: Rights, Concepts, Policy, vol. 1. (Frank & Timme, Berlin, 2011); U. Barten, ‘The EU’s lack of commitment to minority protection’, 15:2 Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe (2016) pp. 104–123.


L. Djordjevic, ‘The fcnm at 20: is there indeed a crisis?’, ECMI Issue Brief, #42 (2018), <>, visited on 15 March 2020; ecmi, ’20 years of dealing with diversity: is the Framework Convention at a crossroads?’, ecmi in Focus (2018); Hoch Jovanovic, supra note 1.


fuen, ‘The signatures for the Minority SafePack Initiative have been registered online at the European Commission’, FUEN, 10 January 2020, <>, visited on 15 March 2020; European Citizens’ Initiative, ‘Minority SafePack – one million signatures for diversity in Europe’, European Commission, (n.d.) <>, visited on 15 March 2020.


fuen, ‘Pact – Between Minority and Majority’ (fuen, Flensburg, Berlin, Brussels, n.d.) <>; Minority SafePack Initiative, ‘Minority SafePack Initiative – you are not alone. One million signatures for diversity in Europe’ (n.d.) <>, visited on 15 March 2020.


fuen, About Us: The Federal Union of European Nationalities, (n.d.) <>, visited on 2 March 2020.


B. Tárnok, ‘European Minorities Win a Battle in Luxembourg – The Judgment of the General Court in the Case Minority SafePack European Citizens’ Initiative’, 16:1 Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe (2017) pp. 79–94; European Commission, ‘Commission registers “Minority SafePack” European Citizens’ Initiative’, European Commission – Press Release, 29 March 2017. <>, visited on 20 March 2020.


K. Crepaz, ‘The Minority Safepack Initiative – a European participatory process supporting cultural diversity’, 17:1 European Yearbook of Minority Issues (2020) pp. 23–47. DOI: <>.


fuen, ‘1,128,385 certified signatures for the Minority SafePack Initiative’, FUEN, 30 July 2018, <>, visited on 1 April 2020.


fuen, ‘The statements of support for the Minority SafePack Initiative will be presented only to the new European Commission’, FUEN, 17 November 2018, <>, visited on 21 July 2020.


fuen, supra note 3.


fuen, ‘Minority SafePack: new deadlines set for public hearing and Commission communication’, FUEN, 20 May 2020, <>, visited on 21 July 2020.


Crepaz, supra note 7, p. 38.


As indicated in the introduction. See note 1.


This 14-page document is still the main document linked to by the EU Commission’s website. See, European Citizens’ Initiative, supra note 3, and Minority SafePack Initiative, supra note 4.


fuen, supra note 4; see also <>.




fuen supra note 4, p. 2.


See for example, D. Stola ‘Forced migrations in Central European History’, 26:2 International Migration Review (1992) pp. 324–341. DOI: <>.


Council of Europe, ‘Commentary on the Effective Participation of Persons Belonging to National Minorities in Cultural, Social and Economic Life and in Public Affairs’, ACFC Thematic Commentary No. 2 (2018), <>, visited on 31 July 2019.


fuen, supra note 4, p. 2.


Issues such as these are regularly highlighted in the monitoring of fcnm state parties, and is a particular issue for Roma minorities across Europe. Each monitoring cycle and its state report and commentary for each country can be found online: <>.


Crepaz, supra note 7, pp. 25–26.


Minority SafePack Initiative, supra note 4, p. 13.


fuen, supra note 4, p. 2.


Supra note 21.


Minority SafePack Initiative, supra note 4, pp. 5–6.


See Crepaz, supra note 7, pp. 36, for a detailed overview of this.






fuen, supra note 4, p. 2.


Crepaz, supra note 7, p. 38.


Minority SafePack Initiative, supra note 4, p. 7.


The author is aware that there are other EU-wide ubi proposals and movements, but the Euro-dividend and Universal Basic Dividend are considered to be the most high-profile and it is beyond the scope or necessity of this article to feature more. One such movement to keep an eye on is the EU Citizen’s initiative for an EU-wide carbon fee and dividend currently collecting signatures. As becomes apparent in the section on DiEM25’s universal basic dividend, there will be some clear overlaps between the two and their theoretical benefits. For more details on this initiative, see <>.


This definition is based on prominent scholars in the ubi debate who are quoted throughout and is thus what the author of this article also considers to be integral.


State of Alaska, Alaska Department of Revenue. Permanent Fund Division. Eligibility Requirements, (n.d.), <>, visited on 27 August 2019.


M. Torry, Money for Everyone. Why We Need a Citizen’s Income (Polity Press, Bristol, 2013) pp. 211–239; C. Murray, ‘Guaranteed income as a replacement for the welfare state’, 3:2 Basic Income Studies (2008) pp. 1–12; P. Van Parijs and Y. Vanderborght, Basic Income. A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2017) pp. 170–215.


Van Parijs and Vanderborght, supra note 36.


G. Standing, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen (Penguin Random House, London, 2017).


Torry, supra note 36, pp. 161–168.


S. Wolf and C. Willis, ‘Universal Basic Income as a tool of empowerment for minorities’, 109 ECMI Working Paper, December 2018 <>, visited on March 15 2020; P. Ciaian, A. Ivanov, d’A. Kancs ‘Universal basic income: a viable policy alternative?’ 42:10 The World Economy (2019) DOI: <>; D. Warren, ‘A universal basic income +’, Economic Security Project, 10 October 2017 <>, visited on 31 July 2019.


Torry, supra note 36, pp. 113–130.


M. Zwolinski, ‘Classical liberalism and basic income’, 6:2 Basic Income Studies (2011) DOI: <>.


Murray, supra note 36.


Van Parijs and Vanderborght, supra note 36, pp. 133–169.


A. Cummine, Citizens’ Wealth. Why (and How) Sovereign Wealth Funds Should Be Managed by the People for the People (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2016).


P. Barnes, With Liberty and Dividends for All (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2014).


Barnes, supra note 46, pp. 93–94, 139–146.


European Commission, EU Emissions Trading System, <>, visited on 22 July 2020.


B. Sommer and A. Hain, ‘Europe as a green leader? A brief evaluation of both the European Union’s Climate and Energy Policy and Common Agricultural Policy’, 2:2 Culture, Practice & Europeanization (2017) pp. 33–45; R.G. Newell, W.A. Pizer and D. Raimi, ‘Carbon markets 15 years after Kyoto: lessons learned, new challenges’, 27:1 Journal of Economic Perspectives (2013) pp. 123–146.


Newell et al., supra note 49.


European Commission. Directorate-General Taxation and Customs Union, The History of the Proposal on Financial Transaction Tax. <>, visited on 20 July 2020.


European Commission, EU spectrum policy framework, <>, visited on 22 July 2020.


European Union Intellectual Property Office, Trademarks in the European Union, <>, visited on 22 July 2020.


T. Milevska, ‘EU “has the power” to put in place a universal basic income’, EURACTIV, 14 April 2014, <>, visited on 22 July 2020.


One of the earliest references by Van Parijs specifically to a Euro-dividend was in 2001 in an article co-authored with Yannick Vanderborght: P. Van Parijs and Y. Vanderborght, ’From Euro-Stipendium to Euro-Dividend’, 11:4 Journal of European Social Policy (2001) pp. 342–346. DOI: <>.

Van Parijs continued to push this idea and it emerged in different areas of his literature, but the most concise article is the 2013 article in Roadmap to Social Europe: P. Van Parijs, ‘The Euro-dividend’, in A. Grozelier et al. (eds.), Roadmap to a Social Europe (Social Europe, 2013) pp. 44–47.


For example; the Unconditional Basic Income Europe movement uses the concept, see V. Lausevic and J. Tanarro, ‘A liberal Euro-dividend’, UBIE Blog, 17 May 2018, <>, visited on 23 July 2019. It was also the focus of a 2018 academic conference at the University of Freiburg entitled ‘Basic Income and the Euro-Dividend as Sociopolitical Pillars of the EU and its Member Countries’, with a series of presentations focused on Van Parijs’ proposal. See <>, visited 23 July 2019.


Van Parijs, supra note 56.


European Parliament, Fact Sheets on the European Union – General Tax Policy, <>, visited on 22 July 2020.


These arguments will be returned to in the analysis as well as in the consequent section on DiEM 25’s Green New Deal involving a universal basic dividend – so named because of its desire to not use taxation as a funding mechanism. For further details on Van Parijs’ reasoning, see Van Parijs and Vanderborght, supra note 36, pp. 235–241.


Van Parijs and Vanderborght, supra note 36, pp. 235–241.


J. Bidadanure, ‘Rediscovering the utopian in Europe: an interview with Philippe Van Parijs’, The Global Journal, 26 March 2013 <>, visited on 27 August 2019; euractiv, ‘Van Parijs: An unconditional basic income in Europe will help end the crisis’, EURACTIV, 11 April 2014 <>, visited on 23 July 2019.


Lausevic and Tanarro, supra note 57.


Van Parijs and Vanderborght, supra note 36, p. 239.


Van Parijs, supra note 56.


This aspect is developed in the consequent analysis in section 3.1, using Guy Standing’s argumentation of increasing individual freedom – in this case to choose to stay in one’s homeland.


Van Parijs, supra note 56.


J.L. Malaquis, ‘Why Europe needs a new democratic left’, DiEM25, October 2017 <>, visited on 19 July 2019; N. Bertoldi, ‘DiEM25: the left is dead, long live the left!’, DiEM25, November 2017 <>, visited on 19 July 2019.


P. Oltermann, ‘Yanis Varoufakis launches pan-European leftwing movement DiEM25’, The Guardian, 10 February 2016, <>, visited on 19 July 2019; DiEM25, Advisory Panel, (DiEM25, n.d.) <>, visited on 19 July 2019.


DiEM25, European New Deal, (DiEM25, 2017) <>, visited on 19 July 2019.


DiEM25, New Deal for Europe. European Spring (DiEM25, 2019) <>, visited on 19 July 2019.


DiEM25, supra note 70.


Ibid., p. 19.


Ibid., pp. 22–23.


DiEM25 Communications, ‘Why universal basic income is not enough’, DiEM25, 18 September 2017, <>, visited on 19 July 2019.


For a detailed overview of DiEM25’s proposal, see its 2019 manifesto, DiEM25, supra note 70.


DiEM25 Communications, supra note 77.


Z. Raza, ‘Yannis Varoufakis on the universal dividend and basic income’, AcTVism, 22 October 2017, <>. Transcript available at: <>, both visited on 19 July 2019.


The Universal Basic Dividend is proposed to be funded not through income/sales/corporation tax, but rather instruments such as financial transactions taxes, carbon taxation, etc. From existing proposals elsewhere, this can be assumed to constitute a partial basic income rather than something that can be enough to fulfil basic needs. Indeed, DiEM25 states that its policy would be a ‘first-step’ towards basic income. Furthermore, as Peter Barnes, supra note 46, outlines, a dividend is usually a mechanism associated with shareholders and paid annually – similar to the Alaskan pfd.


Standing, supra note 38, pp. 60–61.


Wolf and Willis, supra note 40, p. 15.


Evidence of the economic effects that even a small basic income can have, can be seen in the case of the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend. Despite amounting to between usd 1,000 and 2,000 per year, it is suggested that there has been an economic multiplier effect and that the pfd acts as a safety net to help decline poverty rates. See further: S. Goldsmith, ‘The economic and social impacts of the permanent fund dividend on Alaska’, in K. Widerquist and M.W. Howard (eds.) Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend. Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee (Palgrave Macmillan, New York) pp. 49–63.


Standing, supra note 38, pp. 163 and 235.




Standing, supra note 38, pp. 60–61.


Wolf and Willis, supra note 40, pp. 15–16.


Standing, supra note 38, p. 60.


Wolf and Willis, supra note 40, p. 15.


Barnes, supra note 46, p. 41.


Torry, supra note 36, p. 126.


Ibid., p. 127.


Standing, supra note 38, pp. 50–51.


Direct in terms of linguistic discrimination in instances where minority languages are not used in welfare administration (either literally or in-practice reality), but also indirectly whereby members of minority communities are treated worse or given less-preferential treatment by administrative staff.


DiEM25, supra note 70, p. 20.

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