Parliament’s action for fair minimum wages in the EU

Parliament is ready to start negotiations on a proposal that aims to ensure minimum wages provide for a decent living in the EU. MEPs welcomed the proposal for adequate wages across the EU and adopted a negotiating mandate on 25 November 2021. After Council establishes its position, the negotiations between the two institutions on the final form of the law can begin, Society

More on how the EU improves workers’ rights and working conditions.

The need for a fair minimum wage

The minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers must pay their employees for their work. Even though all EU countries have some practice of minimum wage, in most member states this remuneration often does not cover all living costs. About seven out of ten minimum wage workers in the EU found it difficult to make ends meet in 2018.

Minimum wages in the EU

Monthly minimum wages vary widely across the EU in 2021, ranging from €332 in Bulgaria to €2,202 in Luxembourg. One of the major factors for the wide range is the difference in the costs of living in EU countries.

Find out more statistics on minimum wages in EU countries.

There are two forms of minimum wages in EU countries:

  • Statutory minimum wages: they are regulated by statutes or formal laws. Most member states have such rules.
  • Collectively agreed minimum wages: in six EU countries, wages are determined through collective agreements between trade unions and employers, including in certain cases minimum wages: Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden.

What Parliament does for fair minimum wages in the EU

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017, setting out the EU’s commitment to fair wages.

In October 2019, the Parliament adopted a resolution, calling on the Commission to propose a legal instrument for fair minimum wages in the EU.

In a report adopted in December 2020, Parliament underlined that the directive on fair wages should contribute to eliminating in-work poverty and promote collective bargaining.

Workers have the right to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living

Principle 6 of the European Pillar of Social Rights

In 2020, the Commission published a proposal for a directive to improve the adequacy of minimum wages in the EU. It is meant to not only protect workers in the EU, but also help to close the gender pay gap, strengthen incentives to work and create a level playing field in the Single Market.

The proposal takes into account national competences and social partners’ contractual freedom and does not set the level of minimum wages.

The directive wants to promote collective bargaining on wages in all EU countries. For countries with statutory minimum wages, it aims to ensure that the minimum wages are set at adequate levels, while taking into account socio-economic conditions as well as regional and sectoral differences.

Find out how MEPs want to tackle in-work poverty in the EU.

Parliament’s employment committee welcomed the new law for adequate wages across the EU and adopted a negotiating mandate in November 2021. After MEPs adopt it during a plenary session, Parliament can begin negotiations with the Council on the final form of the law.

Find out how the EU works to improve workers’ rights

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