The Close of the International Conference on UBI


The international conference “Universal Basic Income: For a New Social Contract”, which took place on 11 and 12 October 2012 at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, has closed.  The aim of the conference was to   bring together the opinions of Slovenian and foreign experts in the field of basic income (BI) and encourage a discussion on the possibilities of promoting and implementing BI in Slovenia.

In the introductory part of the first day of the conference, Prof Philipp Van Parijs, the world’s authority on BI, emphasised that the introduction of BI would cause a transformation of the labour market. Job-seekers would find employment since the work performed by overworked employees would thus be released. BI represents the true liberty of an individual because people are not forced to work in order to secure their livelihood, but can rather focus on jobs that they truly delight in, added Van Parijs.

Prof. Guy Standing, a co-founder of BIEN, believes that BI could be implemented everywhere in the world, which he illustrated by presenting a project that successfully introduced BI in some areas of India. He pointed out the emergence of a new social class – “the precariat”. In order to earn their living, these people are forced to do various low-paid jobs and are usually disentitled to social transfers. This is why many of them feel they are in a hopeless situation which leads them to dissatisfaction and aggression.

Prof Jože Mencinger, who also looks favourably on BI, sees the possibility of its financing in the VAT within EU. Klaus Sambor, a representative of BIEN Austria, presented the European Citizens’ Initiative Concerning the Introduction of UBI, which urges the European Commission to use all possible means to achieve an accelerated implementation of BI in order to fight social exclusion and discrimination, and encourage unconditional social security and the rights of each individual.
There followed discussions on the possibilities and prospects for the implementation of BI in Slovenia and the impact of BI on market society in the future. In their talks, the participants also touched upon the situation in Croatia and Serbia, and exchanged their views on the Slovenian welfare state and its future.

The second day of the conference was reserved for the meeting of the Slovenian section for BI. The participants discussed the European Citizens’ Initiative Concerning the Introduction of UBI in Slovenia and the possibility of its joining the European Citizens’ Initiative Concerning the European Dividend, which could be financed from the tax budget of each EU member state, thus ensuring each individual a monthly income of EUR 200 from their birth on. They also talked about the section’s future work and activities.

The conference provided and excellent overview of the current findings and research projects in the field of BI. It laid out additional arguments and possibilities for further steps on the path towards the implementation of BI and incited further reflection that BI is not merely a utopia, but could also be a reality.
All lectures and key discussions at the conference were filmed. The videos will be available soon here.

The conference was organised by Institute Novum (Slovenia), the European Liberal Forum and the Projekt: Polska Foundation. It was financed by the European Parliament.