European Commission releases its “first reflections” on Social Europe

“People care about the future of our children and our society, and about fairness and equality in every sense of the word,” states European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the opening of the Commission’s communication ‘A strong Social Europe for just transitions’. The communication, published on 14 January, presents the Commission’s “first reflections” on how social policies can deliver real and lasting positive changes to people’s lives, and is intended to build upon the aims of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The communication is divided into six chapters:

  1. Reinforcing Social Europe
  2. Equal opportunities and jobs for all
  3. Fair working conditions
  4. Social protection and inclusion
  5. Promoting European values in the world
  6. Working together

Of particular interest to Social Platform is the Commission’s commitment “to ensure fair minimum wages for workers in the Union”. Social Platform advocates for the introduction of adequate minimum wages in Member States where they do not exist, or for their adjustment where the minimum wages set – both in a statutory way and through collective bargaining – are inadequate. An adequate minimum wage:

  1. Should be higher than what is considered an adequate minimum income
  2. Should have a minimum threshold of at least 60% of national median wage
  3. Should be set in a non-discriminatory way and irrespective of contract type, to ensure equal pay for equal work

This week, Social Platform is launching a consultation process with members to update our 2015 position on adequate minimum wage to ensure that it takes into account current trends and EU initiatives, including the European Pillar of Social Rights. We hope that the Commission will extend its own consultation beyond only social partners – representatives of businesses and employees –  to include the views of civil society organisations, who can share their own expertise and experience. Our members represent the people most affected by EU social and employment policies, and can bring a unique perspective on the adequacy of different forms of income, including adequate minimum wages and their relationship to adequate minimum income.

On minimum wage and the other policy areas covered by the Commission’s communication, Social Platform and our members look forward to cooperating with decision- and policy-makers in the EU institutions to advance our vision of a truly social, sustainable and inclusive EU that leaves no one behind.