European Minimum Wage: CoESS raises doubts on the legal basis for binding EU action

In a Communication from 14 January 2020, the European Commission lay out a social policy roadmap, which included possible EU action on a legal instrument for a European minimum wage. CoESS has responded today to the first phase Social Partner consultation on the matter. In its statement, CoESS stresses that national Social Partners and collective bargaining must be fully respected and play a strong role in setting minimum wages, while raising doubts on the legal basis for binding EU action in this field.

The statement, which was sent today to the European Commission, underlines that adequate wages are an important criterion for security workers’ job performance and the provision of qualitative services. In CoESS’ understanding, adequate wages that value workers and allow them to have a decent quality of life are an important basis for quality services. If a private security company can demonstrate a fair and transparent remuneration structure, the staff is more likely to be motivated and satisfied with their employment, and therefore performing better in their job and delivering a better service to the client.

CoESS therefore agrees with the European Commission that clear criteria must exist to identify minimum wage levels according to national circumstances, and Social Partners must be closely involved in their set-up, according to their national legal framework.

CoESS has however some doubts whether EU action on minimum wages, which goes beyond the European Semester process and is legally binding, is fully compatible with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. CoESS is concerned that, in many countries where Social Partners play a central role in setting minimum wage levels, EU legal action would not be of added value, but could eventually have a detrimental effect by interfering in, and weakening, collective bargaining and Social Dialogue. National Social Partners must have a role in the process of fixing minimum wages in line with the economic, labour relations, business and social reality of each country.

CoESS is willing to discuss the different systems of minimum wage setting in the sectoral Social Dialogue, as well as any related challenge in the Member States by respecting the autonomy of national and European Social Dialogue mechanisms. CoESS also supports EU measures that strengthen the role of Social Partners and their autonomy at national level, for example through ESF-funding. In addition, the EU may provide recommendations to Member States and Social Partners to support them in setting clear criteria for the identification of adequate wage levels.

You can find the full statement here.