a) What Member States and Social Partners can do
Member States are responsible for implementing the guidelines and recommendations on social protection agreed at Union level. To give effect to the Principle, Member States are invited to update and extend their practice concerning the design and payment of minimum income benefits.
At Union level, social partners are to be consulted in accordance with Article 154 TFEU on possible initiatives based on Article 153 TFEU, and may sign agreements which may be implemented at Union level at their request in accordance with Article 155 TFEU. Social partners may also collect and exchange good practices across the Union. At national level, social partners may support the implementation of this Principle through their involvement in the design and implementation of relevant policies.
b) Recent and ongoing initiatives at EU level
The efficient set up of minimum income schemes at national level is encouraged in Country Specific Recommendations within the European Semester process of economic policy coordination, to which the Social Protection Committee contributes. The Open Method of Coordination in the Social Protection Committee ensures policy coordination and monitors the progress of the Member States.
The European Union financial instruments and in particular the European Social Fund play an important role supporting the development of minimum income benefits.
The Commission has been supporting Member States to improve their minimum schemes through the European Minimum Income Network(111) focused on the promotion of adequate and accessible minimum income schemes and the dissemination of a methodology for cross-nationally comparable reference budgets in the Member States.