It is inevitable that the European Union
will face a major economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual
impact on Member States cannot yet be estimated in monetary terms. In order to
prevent a deep-seated social emergency in the euro zone, a social policy that
gives people security is necessary in addition to economic development.
Especially in the area of the future of
work, the pandemic will change more in the world of work than was thought in
recent years. Employers and employees alike are confronted with new forms of
work and emerging fears about the future are omnipresent. Politicians are
trying to find quick-fix solutions to minimise the increased pressure on the
world of work.
New world of work with a European minimum wage?
Making work more flexible requires a great
deal of perseverance and energy from both employers and employees alike. There
must be a guarantee that as many jobs as possible will be secured for the
future and a binding prospect of adequate and reliable remuneration. The debate
on a European minimum wage will intensify in autumn following the conclusion of
phase of the social partners at beginning of September.
The next steps are either fast-track
negotiations between the social partners with a view to concluding an agreement
on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) under Article 155
or the submission of a proposal by the European Commission. The Commission’s
proposal could be published by the end of October. Italy, Spain and Portugal
are already advocating an EU initiative on a minimum wage framework. It is now
up to Germany, the current Council Presidency holder, to get the debate going
among the 27 Member States.
The will to rebuild
Increasingly, employees are required to
adapt to new circumstances and keep pace with the constantly changing work
environment. That is why politics must also respond quickly to ensure the
reconstruction of the European economy on the one hand and not to overburden
the citizens on the other.
As a matter of course, Nicolas Schmit, the
Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, is given an important role in the
Panel of the European Commission. He acts as the linchpin to ensure that social
issues are addressed in depth in all policy areas. Schmit reaffirms time and
again that a future for Europe cannot be developed with low pay or insecure
jobs. A successful economic policy is now needed to prevent a longterm social
crisis in the European Union.
A question of money
Reaching agreement between the institutions
on the Commission's EUR 750 billion recovery fund is high on the agenda of
unresolved issues. The EU Parliament wants to make considerable improvements.
Despite the efforts of the EU Member States to support their economies, in
these uncertain times, it is not advisable to rely solely on national plans.
What is needed is a common European approach in which no one feels cheated or
exploited. These fears are not appropriate at this stage of the crisis.
European investment means investment in the
future of Europe. More than ever, the focus must be on the common European
idea. Autumn will be an exciting political season and Germany's role as a mediator
is more in demand than ever.