Policy Focus | The EU must pave the way for minimum income
On Wednesday, the College of Commissioners will discuss a recommendation on minimum income, which aims to support Member States’ policies to alleviate poverty and prevent social exclusion. This initiative is part of the Social Pillar implementation, in line with principle 6 on fair wages and principle 14 guaranteeing the right to adequate minimum income benefits.
While inflation raises living costs, incomes remain stagnant. This disparity not only increases the risk of poverty, but it is also detrimental to companies, society, and the economy in general. Raising the minimum wage to a level where people can live decently is crucial to fostering economic growth.
Over the last two years, the European Union has been working to finalise a directive on adequate minimum wages. After the Commission issued a Directive proposal on adequate minimum wages in October 2020, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached a provisional political agreement in June 2022. On September 14, the European Parliament adopted the Directive with an overwhelming majority. The Council of the EU is expected to formally adopt the directive later this month, which would then give Member States two years to incorporate it into national law.
This directive would provide a broad framework to help Member States establish reasonable minimum wages, encourage collective wage bargaining and enhance the monitoring and implementation of minimum wages. However, this directive entails neither a unified minimum wage throughout the EU, nor an obligation on Member State to introduce a legal minimum wage.
European Commission: European Pillar of Social Rights
European Parliament and Council: Provisional agreement on a Directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union
12-13 October: Informal meeting of employment and social affairs ministers
The European Movement International position
As we outline in our policy position “A European Union Response to COVID-19“, the EMI supports the introduction of a European minimum wage, as well as a European unemployment insurance and a European employment contract. They can help bring workers’ rights in Europe to the same standards. Citizens in Europe are now facing an inflation crisis that leaves them even more vulnerable, in the context of a continuing pandemic and a war in Europe. Member States must then coordinate efforts to strengthen workers’ rights while supporting those left out of the labour market. The EU should also ensure that frontline workers fighting this crisis are adequately protected, safeguarded and remunerated.
The EMI also advocates for stronger collective bargaining rights, as we elaborate in our policy positions on “Digital Sovereignty and Citizens’ Rights” and “Moving Towards a Sustainable Europe”. Collective bargaining and employee participation are indeed two industrial relation patterns that need to be used for companies and employees to thrive in a sustainable economy. The right to full employment protections, including the ability for employees to unionise and bargain collectively, must be available to all Europeans regardless of their sector.