A basic income is a monthly stipend provided to all citizens that is sufficient to give them a standard of living that is above the poverty line and meets the social, economic and cultural standards in the country concerned. It should thus prevent material poverty and enable citizens to participate in society and to live in dignity.
Such an income is universal rather than means-tested, meaning that it is given automatically to all citizens regardless of their individual economic circumstances; and is unconditional, meaning that it is not dependent upon the performance of any labour, services or the satisfaction of any other conditions. Thus, basic income differs from the minimum income guarantee that exists in several European countries by reason of the fact that is paid to individuals instead of households, regardless of any income from other sources and without means-test or work requirements.
A wide variety of proposals relating to basic income are circulating in Europe today. These proposals differ in terms of the amount of the income, the source of its funding, its nature and the size of reductions in other benefits that might accompany basic income, as well as many other factors.
At a European level, the Council of Europe adopted its Resolution concerning basic income policy in January 2018, which makes the case for a basic citizenship income. In the accompanying research report, the basic income policy is presented as a means of reducing poverty and poverty-related social problems in welfare states, the main focus being on European countries. The report also defends the basic income policy against conditional, means-tested social assistance programmes on the grounds that it would remove any disincentives to work while also curbing associated bureaucracy and stigmatisation.