In this article we explore the implementation of a European basic pension (BP) scheme as a means of combating financial poverty of Europe's elderly. As earlier contributions already outlined the practical and ethical arguments that favour a European basic income, we assume that a basic income is philosophically and ethically justified and that the European Union has a crucial role to play in its implementation. In this article, we broaden the scope of the discussion to examining the various (and often technical) options, difficulties and pitfalls associated with the practical design and implementation of a harmonised European minimum income scheme. We first offer an overview of minimum income guarantees for the elderly in Europe. Second, we make a detailed assessment of the issues involved in the design of a BP. Third, we shed some light on the European dimension of this proposal and conclude with a sketch of three possible BP scenarios. Our findings confirm that it is one thing to be in favour of BP, but another to design a realistic and politically feasible proposal.
©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston