In Austria and Italy, social benefits are to be linked to the length of stay.

VS – 09/2023

It was only in January that the Council adopted the Recommendation for an Adequate Minimum Income . This was rightly celebrated as an important step towards a social Europe. However, the current discussions in Austria or the new minimum income regulation in Italy that came into force in May speak a different language. In both cases, the Danish scheme is considered the model that links the beneficiary's entitlement to a minimum period of residence and employment.

The Danish model

At the European Council in Edinburgh 11-12 December, 1992  it was agreed that Denmark would retain the right to pursue its own policy on the distribution of wealth and social benefits. The basic regulation in the European Union (EU), according to which the same eligibility conditions exist for EU foreigners and nationals, therefore does not fully apply to Denmark. Denmark makes use of this when receiving minimum income benefits. Anyone who has lived in Denmark for at least nine consecutive years and has worked full-time for at least two and a half years during the last ten years is entitled to minimum income benefits. This regulation also applies to Danes. However, they are entitled to funds for 'self-maintenance and repatriation' that correspond to the amount of the minimum income benefit, so that they do not dependent on the minimum income benefit

New rules in Italy

May this year, a new minimum income scheme came into force in Italy. In spite of the infringement proceedings initiated by the European Commission in February against the previously valid regulation, the entitlement to benefits is linked to the duration of residence. Under the new scheme, the minimum duration of residence has been reduced from ten to five years, but still requires two years of continuous residence.

 Austrian mind games

In Austria, Interior Minister Raab (ÖVP) has proposed to link full social benefits to the duration of residence and a certain term of employment, similar to Denmark. This approach is to apply universally, regardless of nationality and residence status. However, it explicitly aims to reduce immigration. Specific proposals on which services these criteria should apply to have not yet been presented by the Minister. The Green coalition partner has spoken out against these ideas in initial statements.