When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Europe, it put an enormous strain on the lives and livelihoods of millions. Amid lockdowns and quarantines, many countries responded by (temporarily) broadening their social security policies and providing additional support to those at risk of falling through the cracks. Yet as we slowly emerge from this crisis, there are already others looming. Society will continue to feel the effects of COVID-19 for a decade or more without an urgent public policy overhaul. We need to re-examine our social security approaches and implement bold measures to make societies more resilient to change and crisis. One such proposal is the Universal Basic Income.

There is no place for narrow views or short-sighted policies aimed at continuing to patch up a wound that is gradually – although more and more rapidly – bleeding us dry. Nor is there any point in trying to face the challenges of the 21st century with policies from the last century that have already proved to be unsuccessful.


This report examines the social policy reactions to the Covid-19 crisis in a dozen different European countries. Drawing on survey and qualitative data, we explore how these expanded support measures relate to the vision of Universal Basic Income. To what extent do they represent a step towards UBI, despite government hesitancy? And what do they say about the (in)ability of our existing social security systems to deal with crises? The report also investigates the popularity of UBI among Europe’s citizens. Has the pandemic made an impact on the way people talk and think of UBI?

Experts and stakeholders across Europe contributed data for this publication, and shared their insights and reflections as part of our project “Change of Mindset–Civil Society Dialogue around UBI, Social Justice, and Climate Impact.” As the debate continues, we too would be interested in expanding our analysis to include new information and additional countries.

If you wish to:

  • Submit a survey response;
  • Provide details or resources on countries not featured in this analysis;
  • Send us your feedback;

Please get in touch! GEF’s work on UBI continues–read more here.


This publication has been realised with the support of Visio and Fundació Nous Horitzons and the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation. The European Parliament is not responsible for the content of this publication.

Format :
Number of pages :
Publication date :
2021, September 24
Type :
Studies and Research

Cookies on our website allow us to deliver better content by enhancing our understanding of what pages are visited. Data from cookies is stored anonymously and is never shared with third parties.

Find out more about our use of cookies in our privacy policy.