On Tuesday, 17 April 2018, Professor Philippe VAN PARIJS gave a lecture on basic income at the College of Europe (Bruges campus). 25 students took a break from writing their thesis to listen to this master. The idea of an unconditional basic income has become increasingly popular in the last years due to the Swiss referendum, the Finnish and Canadian experiments, increasing inequalities, the threat of technological unemployment and the support from a wide range of business leaders, especially from Silicon Valley.
But Professor Philippe VAN PARIJS already made this idea popular in the 1980s, especially after a famous conference in Harvard which was later published under the title “Why surfers should be fed”. His speech explored the historical evolution of social welfare, from conditional aid, to social insurance and finally to the current basic income debate.
He offered a philosophical and ethical explanation and was challenged in the Q&A with economic and political questions. At the end of the session, we all went home knowing a little better how to achieve a Social Europe.