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di Giovanni Perazzoli >
A call for harmonisation of the unemployment benefits
Claus Offe, the German philosopher and sociologist, is right in identifying the harmonisation of the different unemployment benefit systems of European Countries as one of the necessary measures to counter right and left wing populism, as well as the EU consensus crisis.
Despite recommendations from the EU, Italy and Greece have never adopted the protections for unemployment that characterise the European social model.
In Italy, a national welfare system appears as the only one possible, but remains well below the European standard.
While throughout almost all of Europe it seems rather obvious that a person looking for a job, say, a young man of sixteen or eighteen (twenty-five in France), should enjoy a range of benefits – a monthly income for as long as it takes him to find a job, housing, allowances for children, health insurance – not only none of this exist in Italy, but it appears to the public as unfeasible, unworkable. So there is a part of Europe which considers normal what the other part considers utopia. It is not something of little significance.
Let’s take Ireland, for example. Despite having a far from oppressive taxation system, each unemployed person can count on €806 a month; a childless couple €1347; a couple with a child about €1476; a couple with two children will get €1605 and €1734 with three children.
The total amounts are not taxable. It should be emphasised that these subsidies, in Ireland as in other countries, last as long as the state of unemployment: that is, they have no time limit. To these, a possible housing benefit is added.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that Ireland, unlike Mediterranean countries, is already out of the crisis. Greece and Italy have no form of benefits for the unemployed, while Spain and Portugal don’t have benefits as uniform and generous as those in northern Europe.
The issue is not only relevant to the contrasting levels of misery: the benefit of these subsidies is above all in increasing the availability to business risk, while reducing the role of intermediaries, who play a central role in the forms of welfare oriented towards aid and patronage.
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