Founded in 1986, the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) aims to serve as a link between individuals and groups committed to, or interested in, basic income, i.e. an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement, and to foster informed discussion on this topic throughout Europe.
Members of BIEN include academics, students and social policy practitioners as well as people actively engaged in political, social and religious organisations. They vary in terms of disciplinary backgrounds and political affiliations no less than in terms of age and citizenship. In the course of two decades, “BIEN” has become somewhat of a misnomer, as scholars and activists from other continents have actively joined the network.
Common to all is the belief that some sort of economic right based upon citizenship – rather than upon one’s relationship to the production process or one’s family status – is called for as part of the just solution to social problems in advanced societies. Basic Income, conceived as a universal and unconditional, if modest, continuous stream of income granted throughout life to all members of a political community is just the simplest and most striking element in an expanding set of social policy proposals inspired by this belief and currently debated, if not already implemented.
To actively foster this debate, BIEN publishes a newsletter which provides an up-to-date and comprehensive international overview on relevant events and publications. It organises bi-annual BIEN-congresses where people from more than twenty countries have met to report and discuss basic income and related proposals in connection with a broad spectrum of themes, such as unemployment, European integration, poverty, development, changing patterns of work career and family life, and principles of social justice.
BIEN expanded its scope from European to the Earth in 2004. It is an international network that serves as a link between individuals and groups committed to or interested in basic income, and fosters informed discussion of the topic throughout the world.
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BIEN’s Executive Committee (“EC”) is elected by the General Assembly for a period extending to the latter’s next meeting. The Executive Committee can co-opt other people for specific tasks, but without voting rights. It meets at least once a year at the Secretary’s initiative. Within the limits set by the decisions of the General Assembly, it takes any action it judges useful to the pursuit of BIEN’s purposes.
Members of the Executive Committee, 2014-2016
Louise Haagh email@example.com, University of York, United Kingdom
Co-chair and News editor
Karl WIDERQUIST Karl@Widerquist.com, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar.
Anja Askeland firstname.lastname@example.org, Borgerlønn BIEN Norge and Unconditional Basic Income Europe
Borja Barragué email@example.com, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
EC Members for News & Outreach
Pablo YANES firstname.lastname@example.org, Secretary of Social Development, Mexico City, Mexico
Toru YAMAMORI email@example.com, Doshisha University, Japan
Andrea FUMAGALLI firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Pavia, Italy (non-voting)
Conference Organizer: To be announced
Non EC members with official roles in BIEN
The Honorary Co-Presidents are past co-chairs of BIEN who continue to be actively involved in BIEN and who have been confirmed in this status by the General Assembly.
Claus OFFE email@example.com, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany
Guy STANDING firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Eduardo SUPLICY email@example.com, Federal Senator, São Paulo, Brazil
Joerg Drescher firstname.lastname@example.org, Project Jovialism, Kiev, Ukraine
Members of the International Advisory Board
The International Board consists of the current members of the Executive Committee, the representatives of the recognized national affiliates (listed below) and all the former members of BIEN’s Executive Committee.
Philippe VAN PARIJS, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Former members of BIEN’s Executive Committee:
Ingrid Van Niekirk
Alexander de Roo
Jurgen De Wispelaere
José Antonio Noguera
Robert J. van der Veen
Walter Van Trier
Annual Reports and Treasury Reports
Minutes of the General Assembly and Treasurer’s reports
- Minutes of the General Assembly 2014
- Minutes of the General Assembly 2012
- Minutes of the General Assembly 2010
- Minutes of the General Assembly 2008
- Minutes of the General Assembly 2006
A Short History of BIEN
The origins (1983-1986) – An idea, a collective, a prize. In the Autumn of 1983, three young researchers decided to set up a working group in order to explore the implications of an extremely simple, unusual but attractive idea which one of them had proposed to call, in a paper circulated a few months earlier, “allocation universelle”. Paul-Marie Boulanger, Philippe Defeyt and Philippe Van Parijs were then, or had recently been, attached to the departments of demography, economics and philosophy, respectively, of the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). The group became known as the Collectif Charles Fourier. Its main output was a special issue of the Brussels monthly La Revue nouvelle (April 1985). But along the way, it won a prize, with a provocative summary of the idea and its putative consequences, in an essay competition on the future of work organised by the King Baudouin Foundation.
The first meeting – With the money it thus unexpectedly earned, the Collectif Charles Fourier decided to organise a meeting to which they would invite a number of people to whom the idea of an unconditional basic income had, they gradually discovered, independently occurred . This became the first iinternational conference on basic income, held in Louvain-la-Neuve in September 1986, with sixty iinvited participants. This was quite an extraordinary event, with many seemingly lonely fighters suddenly discovering a whole bunch of kin spirits. They included, among others, Gunnar Adler-Karlsson, Jan-Otto Andersson, Peter Ashby, Yoland Bresson, Paul de Beer, Alexander de Roo, Nic Douben, Ian Gough, Pierre Jonckheere, Bill Jordan, Greetje Lubbi, Edwin Morley-Fletcher, Claus Offe, Riccardo Petrella, David Purdy, Guy Standing, Robert van der Veen and Georg Vobruba.
Seeds of a lasting network – At the final session of the conference, several participants expressed the wish that some more permanent association be created, with the task of publishing a regular newsletter and organising regular conferences. Guy Standing proposed calling this association Basic Income European Network, which gathered an easy consensus, since no one could beat the beauty of the corresponding acronym (BIEN). Its purpose, later enshrined in its Statutes, was formulated as follows: BIEN aims to serve as a link between individuals and groups committed to or interested in basic income, and to foster informed discussion on this topic throughout Europe.Peter Ashby (National Council for Voluntaty organisations), Claus Offe (University of Bremen) and Guy Standing (International Labour Organisation) became co-chairmen. Walter Van Trier (University of Antwerp) became secretary, and Alexander de Roo (parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament) treasurer.
BIEN’s past and current activities – From 1986 on, in addition to smaller events, BIEN has been organising one major international congress every second year, in an increasingly structured and professional way. In each case, a major academic or international organisation has accepted to host it, and financial support has been forthcoming from many sources, both public and private, both national and international. BIEN’s first two congresses were small enough to lend themselves to the publication of proceedings, but subsequent congresses had far too many contributions for them to fit into a volume of proceedings. Many of the papers presented were independently published and several found their ways into three books largely inspired by BIEN’s congresses:
- Philippe Van Parijs ed., Arguing for Basic Income. Ethical Foundations for a Radical Reform. London & New York: Verso, 1992
- Robert J. van der Veen & Loek Groot eds., Basic Income on the Agenda. Policy Options and Political Feasibility. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000
- Standing, G. ed., Promoting Income Security as a Right. Europe and North America, London: Anthem Press.
Since 1988 BIEN published a Newsletter three times per year since 1988 (33 issues, some in collaboration with the London-based Citizen’s Income Study Center). Publication of the Newsletter has been discontinued, but instead since January 2000 BIEN has started publishing a regular NewsFlash. BIEN’s NewsFlash appears every second month and is dispatched electronically to over 1500 subscribers. Since 1996 BIEN maintains a very substantial website. All issues of the newsletter and the newsflash can be downloaded from BIEN’s website. Finally, BIEN keeps an archive in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) which includes, among other items, a great number of books and reports on BI. The titles currently stored in the archive are listed here (updated November 2010).
After its Congress in Barcelona (2004), BIEN extended its scope: now its name is Basic Income Earth Network. All life members of the Basic Income European Network, many of whom were non-Europeans, automatically became life members of the Basic Income Earth Network.