FRANCE: Minister of Economy says he is open to basic income

Basic income continues to make headway in France after the Minister of Economy and the Minister for Digital Affairs sent positive messages about it.

Interviewed in the popular radio and TV show Bourdin Direct, Emmanuel Macron, the French Minister for Economy, said he believed in the principles behind basic income and thought the topic deserved to be investigated further:

“Basic income is an interesting idea. The debate shouldn’t only be about being pro or against, but I think it’s an idea we should investigate further. Why? Because it means giving the possibility to everyone to have a starting point in life. This is the idea of basic income. There is also the idea of having a basic capital [a one-off payment given to everyone] for all persons of a certain age.”

He went on:

“Ultimately, it refers to what philosophy we have of our society. Personally I believe in freedom, I believe in openness (…) I think the role of the state is to recreate conditions of equality at every moment in one’s life: at school, when starting one’s professional life, and when life accidents occur, through social standards and social benefits and education policy for unemployed persons (…). But I don’t believe in egalitarianism, rather I believe in equal opportunities; and the idea of basic income or basic capital for all goes in this direction and I’m interested in this.”

The interview was broadcasted live on January 20, you can listen to the extract about basic income below:

“Basic income is following the natural course of history”

The night before however, the French National Assembly had rejected several amendments calling on the government to carry out a comprehensive study on basic income to assess its feasibility and explore different ways to implement it.

The amendments were championed by Socialist MP Delphine Batho and her Republican colleague Frédéric Lefebvre in the context of a current bill on so-called ‘Digital Republic’, and were meant as a follow-up of the release of an important report on the transformations of work in the digital era.

The night just before the French National Assembly rejected the amendments by only one vote. However Luc Belot, rapporteur of the bill, and Axelle Lemaire, Minister for Digital Affairs, said they were open to the idea.

“The idea is very seductive and could find consensus across all political parties – as long as we don’t go into the details” said the Minister. “In reality this sort of unique safety floor could lead to removing many benefits such as student grants, family and housing benefits and others. On the other hand, one may also consider the possibility that basic income could complement other social benefit schemes. The debate is infinite. You are right to raise this question, and to do that today. In fact, this subject is definitely following the natural course of history.”

However, both the Minister and rapporteur called on the MPs to reject the amendments on the ground that the topic fell outside of the focus of the bill being discussed. They invited MPs to include basic income into the work of another parliamentary working commission led by Christophe Sirugue, which has been tasked to produce a comprehensive review of the welfare system.

The French Movement for Basic income (MFRB) has been asked to contribute to the commission’s work. “We are currently working on providing concrete proposals to pave the way towards basic income” said researcher and MFRB member Jean-Éric Hyafil.

Credit picture CC École Polytechnique

About Stanislas Jourdan

Stanislas Jourdan has written 43 articles.


The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Joao Paulo Soares

    Does this mean that one of these days we won’t have to work anymore?…

  • Lawrence

    No every one will still work..there is a wage to be earned ..but what it will mean is your employer will not be able to stand over you and people that cant work or cant find work will not be isadvantaged and put stress on the medical systems and the state/country.

  • We respectfully suggest the serious consideration of Socioeconomic Democracy as a peaceful, just and democratic resolution to the myriad unnecessary and pain-filled problems confronting humanity caused by the present maldistribution of both Income and far more importantly Wealth about the world.

    Socioeconomic Democracy is a theoretically consistent and peacefully implementable socioeconomic system wherein there exists both locally appropriate Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and locally appropriate Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW), with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of a democratic society.

    Socioeconomic Democracy is easily realized with elementary Public Choice Theory. Socioeconomic Democracy further encourages voter participation and provides the essential economic funds and more importantly psychological incentives for all to work productively and satisfyingly to realize a sustainable socioeconomic system seriously and successfully dedicated to the betterment of all humanity, here presumed a desirable endeavor.

    It has been demonstrated in detail how Socioeconomic Democracy would simultaneously eliminate or significantly reduce a multitude of serious-to-deadly and intimately intertwined societal problems including (but by no means limited to) those familiar ones associated with: Automation, Computerization and Robotization; Budget Deficits and National Debts; Bureaucracy; Maltreatment of Children; Crime and Punishment; Development, finally sustainable; Ecology, Environment, Resources and Pollution; Education; our Elderly mothers and fathers; the Feminine majority; Inflation; International conflict; Intranational conflict; Involuntary Employment; Involuntary Unemployment; Labor Strife and Strikes; Medical and Health care; the necessary global Military Metamorphosis; Natural Disasters; Pay Justice; Planned Obsolescence; Political Participation; Poverty; Racism; Sexism; and the General Welfare.

    These ramifications of Socioeconomic Democracy emphasize that whatever one’s “favorite few” societal problems requiring solution, they are inseparably interrelated with dozens of others just as serious. This implies that to significantly resolve or reduce any societal problem requires the simultaneous resolution of them all.

    Those interested in contributing, in any way, to the further understanding, development, realization and distribution of the ideas and benefits described here are urged to contact this writer as well as your own thoughtful readers and associates.

    A few relevant links:

    “A Democratic Socioeconomic Platform, in Search of a Democratic Political Party”

    Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System (Praeger Studies on the 21st Century, 2002)

    “Bibliography of Socioeconomic Democracy”

    “Socioeconomic Democracy”
    International Journal of Science, vol.1, February 2012, (pp.33-48).

    “Socioeconomic Democracy: A Progressive Societal Arrangement”
    Studies of Changing Societies: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Focus, vol.1, June 2012.

    Robley E. George

    Director, Center for the Study of Democratic Societies

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