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FRANCE: Socialist MP Delphine Batho tables an amendment on basic income

Socialist Member of Parliament and former Minister Delphine Batho just tabled an amendment to the National Assembly asking the government to make a report on the feasibility of basic income in the context of digital revolution.

Update 18th January: MP Frédéric Lefebvre and several conservatives colleagues have tabled another amendment with the same wording.

Basic income is slowly but surely entering the political scene. On January 11th 2016, Delphine Batho, MP from the Socialist Party and former Minister of Justice and Ecology, submitted an amendment to a bill on digital technology, asking the government to make a report on different approaches to basic income and its economic feasibility.

This amendment (pdf) calls for a detailed report on this topic by no later than June 2016, which would include “a macro-economic feasibility study, a comparative impact study on different approaches to basic income, as well as an analysis on the experiments on the subject that are currently going on, on a local and an international scale”.

This interesting move happened only few days after an important report submitted to the Ministry for Employment made an important case for basic income. As part of 20 recommendations presented to the Ministry, the report recommended studying the feasibility of basic income in France by carrying out a study, in order to plan pilot-projects in the country. It created a lot of ripples in the media and Ms Batho’s amendment directly refers to it.

The French Movement for a Basic Income (MFRB) supports Delphine Batho’s initiative and calls for broad and cross-party support for it.

Mrs Batho’s support for basic income is not new. In a colloquium organized in the Senate in May 2015, she defended the idea, stating that “our welfare and State-financed system relies on 1945 capitalism and the thirty years of post-war economic growth. We now live in a different era and the system is now subject to changes, due more specifically to this new digital era, but also to the ecological crisis, the depletion of natural resources, etc. We thus need to think about a new organizational and welfare system”.  

The Socialist MP emphasized the importance of studying the possibility of a basic income in France, in a context where it could “remunerate ‘unpaid work’ and all tasks that create value, especially through digital tools”. She based her arguments on the “digital revolution and the changes it implies for the labour market”, as new technologies contribute to doing more and more tasks, and consequently replace more and more jobs in France and worldwide.

This new development is the latest in a series of positive signals for basic income in France. Last month in the Aquitaine Region, the left coalition won the election with a proposal for a basic income pilot in their platform, and last November a right-wing MP Frédéric Lefebvre unsuccessfully proposed a similar amendment in another legislative dossier.

Last but not least, MP Lefebvre revealed on twitter this week that he has had a discussion with the Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron, and the latter agreed to work on basic income.

On the down side, a new poll shows that only 35% of the French would support basic income. This is a lower score than a previous poll in May 2015 (60% in favour). However this may be explained by the different way of presenting the idea to respondents.

This could thus be a turning point for basic income in France, as more and more decision-makers show an interest in the issue.

Credit picture CC Parti socialiste

About Nicole Teke

Nicole Teke has written 4 articles.

International Coordinator for the French Movement for Basic Income.

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.

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