European Employment Commissioner Nicolas Schmit argues that the idea of a European minimum wage is decisive for fair competition in Europe, which “cannot” be based on wage dumping and low wages.
“It is good for people, because minimum wages must make it possible to have a decent life, but it is also something we have to do for fair competition in Europe. We cannot base competition on wage dumping and low wages. It is not the right way, “Nicolas Schmit told Lusa.
“We live in a period of modernization of our economies in which productivity is decisive and it is not low wages that should be at the center of competition, are skills, investment in technology, knowledge and productivity “, he said.
The Luxembourgian commissioner was speaking to Lusa by telephone during an “online” conference with government officials, social partners and academics as part of the consultation process on the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The Plan, which is expected to be approved at a Social Summit to be organized by the Portuguese presidency of the European Union (EU), in May, in Porto, will include “an important proposal” from the European Commission that will be “a directive on a framework for minimum wages ” in Europe.
The Commission’s initiative visa definer values for minimum wages but indicators, criteria and objectives that ensure a decent quality of life for workers, compatible with the standard of living of the country where they work.
“This is what we intend […] We want a framework because we believe that convergence of wages is needed in Europe“said Nicolas Schmit, who oversees Employment and Social Rights in the European executive.
Asked about the minimum wage in Portugal, the commissioner pointed out that it has been and will continue to be increased and that “there are countries in Europe with much lower minimum wages”, insisting on the need for convergence and “accelerating this convergence” in the EU.
Nicolas Schmit said he is certain that, during the Portuguese presidency, it will be possible “to achieve a very solid and ambitious program” with “a very positive impact on European citizens”, because the Portuguese Government places great value on social rights.
The commissioner stressed that “it is precisely during a crisis that social rights must be preserved, consolidated, modernized and, in some areas, strengthened“.
“Good social security is more important now than ever, because we have to protect people’s health and we have to protect people who lose their jobs or give them the opportunity to keep their jobs even if the economy slows down with temporary work protection schemes. Social rights can help to overcome the crisis and make the recovery more robust “, he defended.
According to data published last December by the European Commission, the variations between the minimum wages practiced in Europe continue to be marked, varying between 286 euros in Bulgaria and 2,071 euros in Luxembourg (values of 2019), appearing Portugal in the second half of the table, in 12th position among the 22 countries that practice a minimum salary.
The minimum wage in Portugal increased on 1 January this year to 635 euros, compared to the value of 600 euros practiced in 2019, which, adjusted taking into account the 14 months, is equivalent to an increase from 700 to 740 euros, the values taken into account in the Eurofund calculations to establish a comparison between Member States.
Six EU member states have no minimum wage: Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden.