VNot much has remained of the Commission President’s original plans for a uniform EU minimum wage. The minimum wage guideline now agreed by the European Parliament and states dispenses with uniform lower wage limits linked to national median wages, as Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) had called for. Rules are only established for which criteria the EU states must take into account when setting national minimum wages. Also, these only apply to states that have a minimum wage. Nobody has to introduce it.
Nonetheless, the Left, the Greens, the SPD and the workers’ flights of the Union rightly speak of a socio-political turnaround. Of course, the directive still has an effect. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) celebrates the agreed goal of achieving 80 percent collective bargaining coverage in every EU state as a boost for more collective wages and better collective bargaining coverage.
He will also use the lower wage limit of 60 percent of median income, which is still mentioned as a non-binding recommendation, should the German minimum wage fall below this. First of all, there is no need for action after the increase to 12 euros that has just been decided.
What is worse is that the EU is continuing with the directive on the path to a common European social policy that it started four and a half years ago in Gothenburg with the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights. According to the motto “Two steps forward, one step back”, it is pushing into a field that the EU treaties have largely reserved for the states because of the great variety of national systems and traditions. The interference is justified by the fact that fair competition can be established in the EU.
The opposite is true. Only if the EU states can adapt their social policies flexibly to react to national peculiarities, such as lower productivity, do they have a fair chance. The concern about fair wages in Lisbon and Bucharest, which evokes salvation, is intended to conceal something completely different: the concern about competition from countries with less than lavish minimum wages.