GERMANY: Schleswig-Holstein coalition shows interest in exploring basic income (but no pilot yet)
The end of June saw the proliferation of rumors that a basic income experiment would be launched in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. While such rumors were inaccurate, a political coalition in the state has called to further research basic income.
The June 25th edition of the newspaper Flensburger Tageblatt, the daily newspaper of the city of Flensburg in Schleswig-Holstein, heralded the purported plans of the state government to introduce an experiment of basic income. The paper quoted Robert Habeck, Green Party leader and future minister of environment, as saying that “we want to test a basic income from the government side and propose Schleswig-Holstein as a model region.” It further claimed that a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Free Democratic Party (FDP), and Green Party backed the demand for a test of a basic income.
The article fueled rumors, widely disseminated through basic income social media channels, that Schleswig-Holstein is preparing to launch a basic income experiment.
This announcement, however, was premature. Despite Habeck’s support, a basic income experiment Schleswig-Holstein remains at best a remote future possibility. In fact, the coalition agreement signed in between the CDU, FDP, and Greens does not call for an experiment or pilot study of basic income. Instead, calls only for the establishment of a “laboratory for the future” (“Zukunftslabor”) to research and assess new forms of social protection, a basic income being one.
Arguably, the coalition agreement’s proposed “laboratory for the future” does signal progress toward the investigation of a basic income in Schleswig-Holstein. However, the reality is far more modest than originally rumored.
No German UBI Experiments So Far..
Shortly prior to the first rumors of a basic income pilot in Schleswig-Holstein, the State Legislature of Hawai’i passed a bill that created a working group to study a universal basic income among other possible policies to provide the state’s residents with economic security. This generated a spate of media attention for basic income — but, as usual, not all reports were entirely accurate. Some news reports on the legislation, identified Germany (in addition to Finland and, soon, Canada) as a country that is already “testing” a basic income.
The claim may have originated in an article published in Business Insider and Futurism, which cites an article about the startup Mein Grundeinkommen as its source. This is misleading: Mein Grundeinkommen is a private effort, not a governmental one, and it merely awards year-long “basic incomes” of €1000 per month to individuals chosen by lottery. The startup’s work benefits randomly selected individuals while increasing awareness of basic income — and, in these aims, the project been highly successful. Mein Grundeinkommen has distributed year-long “basic incomes” to 94 individuals (and counting), and each drawing continues to generate media publicity. However, although anecdotes from individuals are sometimes presented as evidence regarding the effects of a basic income, the project should not be confused for an experiment.
Currently, no basic income experiment is being conducted in Germany — and, so far, no developments in Schleswig-Holstein have changed this fact.
More information on the alleged Schleswig-Holstein pilot:
Lea Hampel, “Jamaika-Koalition flirtet mit dem Grundeinkommen,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 27, 2017 (in German).
“North German state weighs up introducing unconditional basic income,” The Local, June 27, 2017.
Ronald Heinrich, “Grundeinkommen in Schleswig-Holstein? – Reality Check,” Huffpost, June 30, 2017 (in German).
Photo (Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein) CC BY-SA 2.0 Rüdiger Stehn