397 members of parliament voted in favor of a set of European social rights last week in the Strasbourg plenary. The voted report is only advisory, but it aims to influence the Commission’s proposal of new social welfare rules that will be voted in March.
Through this set, the parliament is giving a clear call to the European Commission. MEPs now hope the Commission will propose EU-wide rules on decent working conditions for all types of employment, notably new forms shaped by Apps and different digital platforms.
Through these proposals, MEPs hope to influence member states to enforce higher labour standards. MEPs notably proposed the introduction of an EU social security card that would help ensure fair social protection for workers who contribute to their national welfare systems by keeping track of their contributions.
MEPs also called for minimum standards learning and trainings. They called for decent working conditions, including adequate pay for the work of interns, trainees and apprentices. They also called for limits for on-demand work and the end of zero-hour contracts.
180 opposed it and 68 absented. MEPs from the center-right European People’s party (EPP) group went against two important measures:
- One calling for national minimum wages to be at least 60% of a country’s median income.
- The other calling for the EU to calculate the living wage in every Member State.
Maria João Rodrigues, Socialist MEP and former Portuguese employment minister was influential in the drafting of the report. She told journalists she was surprised that that many MEPs backed this set, notably the part related to national minimum wage. For her, this section did not pass because of the EPP’s wish to keep citizens « surviving on very low wages ».
In 2014, the president of the commission, Juncker already said he was in favor of a minimum wage set in each member state as a proportion of its own median income. Out of the 27 member states, only seven do not have a legal minimum wage: Cyprus, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden.
Minimum wages in the EU vary considerably, in Western European countries, the minimum monthly salaries average €1,200, while in Eastern Europe it can be as low as €400.
EU Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen has repeatedly insisted that she won’t bypass national governments by proposing an EU-wide minimum wage. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) Member states is clear and states that member states are the only ones able to intervene in matters of salary.
Yet, Thyssen has previously encouraged more countries to introduce a national minimum wage, she could further her encouragement during the Commission’s proposal of new social welfare rule next March.
For more information:
- Juncker calls for minimum wage in all EU countries ‘https://www.euractiv.com/section/social-europe-jobs/news/juncker-calls-for-minimum-wage-in-all-eu-countries/
- Euractiv (20 janv. 2017) http://www.euractiv.fr/section/europe-sociale-emploi/news/meps-call-for-eu-law-requiring-national-minimum-wage-in-every-country/?nl_ref=29346723Le Parlement en faveur du salaire minimum pour toute l’UE
- Sputnik news (2017) ‘Right to an Equitable Wage ‘Violated on a Massive Scale’ in Europehttps://sputniknews.com/europe/201701201049825447-europe-minimum-wage-violations/
- European Parliament News (February 2017) ‘European Social Rights: workers’ protection needs to be extended to new jobs’ available online at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20170113IPR58040/european-social-rights-workers%E2%80%99-protection-needs-to-be-extended-to-new-jobs