In her mission letter to the Commissioner
for Employment and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, new Commission President
Ursula von der Leyen identified work on a fair minimum wage as a priority task.
Social Democrats and the Greens called for this in the 2019 European election
campaign. Work on this policy request is now moving forward with the launch of
a discussion at European level.
Significant wage disparities between Member States
In 22 EU countries there is a statutory
minimum wage, the amount of which varies significantly from almost 12€ in
Luxembourg to less than 2€ in Bulgaria. The proportion of employees at minimum
wage level also varies widely, as low as 5% in Malta and above 20% in Romania.
Commission’s work gathering pace
On 14 January 2020, Commissioner Schmit
presented a paper for the first phase consultation with the social partners. The aim is to
identify possible measures to address the challenges of ensuring fair minimum
wages. It emphasises that fair wages are a key to ensuring an adequate standard
of living and implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. To this end, a Communication was published on the same day, which deals with several social policy initiatives,
including an Action Plan for implementing the Pillar.
A fair wage for all?
The aim of a possible European regulation is
not to establish a uniform minimum wage. Rather, the aim is to establish a
uniform basis, e.g. a percentage lower limit in relation to average earnings.
The first phase of the consultation is
intended to determine whether the social partners consider that a European
regulation is necessary. The social partners now have six weeks in which to
express their views.