Decent minimum wages across Europe

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Avizul CESE: Decent minimum wages across Europe

Key points

The EESC:

  • underlines that in the context of the economic recession following the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinated and decisive short and medium-term policies are needed to safeguard employment and income as well as to ensure a rapid and sustainable relaunch of economic activities, competitiveness and a well-functioning social and economic model. Quality jobs, with fair wages – including decent minimum wages across Europe – are needed as part of the solution. Economic factors, including productivity and the sustainability of enterprises, must also be taken into consideration.
  • stresses that wages, including minimum wages, are an important aspect of the European Union's social market economy model, and that ensuring decent minimum wages in all the Member States would help in achieving a number of EU objectives. Wages are linked to the economic situation in a country, region or sector, and changes may have an impact on employment, competitiveness and macro-economic demand.
  • acknowledges that there are concerns regarding possible EU action in the area. Among the key concerns are that the EU has no competence to act on "pay", including pay levels, and that such action could interfere with the social partners' autonomy and undermine collective bargaining systems.
  • welcomes the Commission's recognition that there is scope for EU action to promote the role of collective bargaining in supporting minimum wage adequacy and coverage. Measures to support collective bargaining could be included in the EU action on minimum wages whilst respecting different national industrial relations systems.
  • welcomes the opportunity to further contribute to the discussion on what action could be taken at European level, taking into account the different realities in Member States and division of competences between the EU and national level.
  • believes that the most effective way of reducing in-work poverty is by decent minimum wages and person-centred, integrated, active inclusion policies, which promote access to adequate minimum income, employment services and quality jobs, as well as to essential and enabling social services
  • fully appreciates the complexity of the issues involved in this debate and recognises that minimum wages are not the silver bullet that will solve all problems. However, a common EU approach with clear policy objectives for the Member States to achieve, through different means, and ensuring the involvement of the social partners, as part of well-functioning collective bargaining systems, could ensure that workers' rights to fair remuneration and to freedom of association and employers' needs in relation to productivity and competitiveness are safeguarded.

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