The French Republic’s main consultative body has announced that it will undertake an assessment of the potential economic impact of introducing a basic income in France.
The Economic, Social and Environmental Council’s (CESE) announcement on March 22nd that it has launched a referral on basic income as a way to “re-start economic activity” marks another major political breakthrough for the basic income movement in France.
The CESE, sometimes called the “third assembly of the Republic,” is a consultative assembly composed of 233 members representing employers associations, trade unions and civil society groups from different social, economic and environmental areas.
The CESE usually publishes reports at the request of the French government or parliament, but it also has the authority to conduct self-initiative reports, as its economic activities section exercised in this instance.
“Maintaining strong economic demand – particularly through consumption – is an essential driver of stability for economic stakeholders.” This, the CESE explains on its website, is one of its main reasons for investigating basic income. Furthermore, the referral emphasizes the fact that high unemployment, poverty and precarity are undermining economic demand: “The fact that a significant – or even growing – part of the households are outside of the production (and therefore consumption) flows is a burden for our economy and a systemic threat.”
The CESE will undertake a two-step study. The first phase will explore the parameters of a basic income policy and provide an overview of the various experiments already carried out.
The second, more ambitious, phase will assess the potential consequences of introducing a basic income on, among other factors, domestic consumption, different sectors of the economy, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, employment and demographics across the regions of France.
Once the rapporteurs of the study are designated, civil society stakeholders will be invited to contribute. The economic committee will then develop and present a report, which will be ultimately voted on in a plenary session by all CESE members. If accepted, the final report will then be presented to the prime minister, the National Assembly and the Senate.
This new development follows an increasing wave of interest towards basic income among the French political class for the past few months.
The French Movement for a Basic Income (MFRB) and the Association for the Introduction of an Existence Income (AIRE) have both declared they will take part in the consultation.
It usually takes three to nine months for the CESE to adopt a report, which means there is a chance that the report will be adopted ahead of the next parliamentary and presidential elections.
Picture CC Jacqueline Poggi