MEP Monica Semedo (RE; LU), ETUC Deputy General Esther Lynch and Ceemet Director General Delphine Rudelli where brought together by the European Liberal Forum.

For the 15th edition of the ‘On The Agenda’ series, they discussed the European Commission’s proposal for an Adequate Minimum Wage. 
A complex file on which all speakers agreed that the subject hasn’t lost its allure.

A common starting point …

At an early stage during the debate the moderator was surprised by the harmony amongst the speakers. All three agreed that wages should allow workers to live.

‘Avoid in work poverty’, ‘no competitive companies by lowering social standards’ and ‘fairness’ were a few statements indicating that the starting point is the same.

And that is where the commonalities ended.

…drifting into diverging views

  • List of criteria

The shadow Rapporteurs are currently negotiation the list of criteria that Member States have to apply when setting a national minimum wage.

MEP Semedo insisted that the list is an absolute minimum and Member States will always have the option to add more, country specific, criteria. For the employers, Ms Rudelli, reminded that the list is part of a Directive and the criteria therefore not a recommendation. Equally causing uncertainty is that it is not clear if all the criteria have to be considered or just a few them. She pointed out that Member States need some leeway to decide upon the relevance and weight of the criteria in accordance with the national traditions and the prevailing national socio economic conditions. The latter is of particular importance in a post-COVID era of recovery.

  • How to set a 'adequate' and 'Human rights standard' respecting wage

Ms Lynch from the trade union side agreed that ‘adequacy’ needs to be seen in a context of a country as ‘adequate’ means something else in Bulgaria than in France.

The reference to the 60% median wage and 50% average of wages in the proposal and the human rights standard led to a discussion on the consequences on renumeration. For Ms Rudelli, both would result in interfering with national competences as ‘pay’ is explicitly excluded from the competences of the EU.

The proposal is complex and needs time

Although for Ceemet the Commission should never have entered into the discussion on minimum wages, it is a reality that the proposal is there and eventually will become legislation.

Employers haven’t given up their hopes that, instead of the proposed Directive, measures will be put in place that reinforce social partnership and social dialogue at national level to make a difference.

Adding to this, Ms Lynch highlighted the importance of the proposal by calling it ‘the Directive that will leave no one behind’. MEP Semedo agreed with the importance of the proposal and insisted that therefore the file should not be rushed, saying that:

“The file cannot be discussed in a hurry. If it takes time, so be it. It is too important.”