European Commission launches consultation.

CH – 01/2020

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.