DIn the mediation committee, the federal government and the states led by the Union are continuing to discuss the planned citizens’ allowance, which is to replace the basic social security system Hartz IV in Germany. One point of contention is the easing of sanctions for those unwilling to work. The CDU and CSU warn that the traffic light coalition’s project will reduce incentives to look for a job – especially in times of rampant shortage of skilled workers.
France is going the opposite way. Because of the large number of vacancies, the pressure to take up work and complete an apprenticeship will increase in the future.
Although basic security remains unchanged, access to unemployment benefits, which are generous in a global comparison, is becoming somewhat more difficult. For example, the entitlement to benefits expires if employees with fixed-term employment contracts reject a permanent employment contract offered by their employer twice within a year for the same position at the same location with the same remuneration.
Model Hartz reforms
In addition, the government should be able to shorten the maximum period of entitlement to unemployment benefits by decree if too many positions cannot be filled. On Thursday, the corresponding bill cleared the last hurdle in the Senate with the votes of the government camp and the conservative Republicans.
The French government intends to announce details of the changed entitlement period shortly after consultation with the social partners. So far, six months of full-time work has been enough to be able to receive unemployment benefits for up to two years and for up to three years as a 55-year-old. When Emmanuel Macron took office, four months were enough.
In his first five years as President, he initiated labor market reforms. The German Hartz reforms were repeatedly explained in Paris as a model.
“One thing I would like to see in France is an employment rate for older people over 55 that corresponds to that in Germany,” Economics Minister Bruno Le Maire recently told the FAZ. In Germany it is 72 percent and in France it is 56 percent.
Meloni wants to eliminate false incentives
In Italy, the right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni also wants to tighten the thumbscrews, even if the leverage is not unemployment benefit, as in France, but the citizen benefit introduced in 2018.
In the future, this should only be given to those who can work, Meloni demanded during the election campaign; False incentives must be eliminated. So far, she has not specified exactly how this is supposed to work. Many observers expect the move to be less radical than announced before the election, especially as high inflation exacerbates poverty.
The citizen benefit, which is particularly advocated by the left-wing populist Five Star Party, is social assistance for low-income Italians, EU citizens or non-European foreigners who have lived in Italy for at least ten years. In three years, the Italian state has spent almost 20 billion euros on this.