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Commissioner Nicolas Schmit takes steps to deliver on PES campaign promises for decent wages and strong social rights


14 Jan 2020



Today, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit outlined his plan to deliver on the PES campaign promise of decent minimum wages across Europe and full protection of social rights.

With many international organisations finally acknowledging the need to tackle inequality and to raise wages from a macro-economic perspective - most recently the IMF and the BIS - it is time for the EU to take a clear social turn and to start implementing a strong social agenda.

The PES has long advocated that work must pay, and we have repeatedly called for the full implementation of the principles enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights. After making these demands central to our European Parliament elections campaign, we are glad to see that our Commissioner Nicolas Schmit is already taking steps to deliver them.

A roadmap to fully implement the social pillar and proposals for a framework on minimum wages - announced today by the European Commission - are much-needed steps towards a fairer Europe for everyone.

As a firm champion of wage justice and strong social rights, the Party of European Socialists backs these efforts, led by Commissioner Nicolas Schmit.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Ensuring everyone has fair wages and social rights has been at the heart of our political family’s work. We are glad to see the Commission is advancing this, thanks to the efforts of progressive Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, who has taken a strong lead and made this a clear priority.

“Progressives are making sure that wages are always above the poverty line. We are ensuring that all people enjoy strong social rights. These are real advances that socialists and social democrats have fought for, so everyone in society can benefit.

“A European framework for minimum wages will not overhaul national approaches or impose a single European minimum wage. It will clearly set the objective of fair minimum wages in EU policy, allowing for a decent standard of living. In our view such minimum wages should be reached either by law or collective bargaining, depending on existing national wage practices.”

In the face of opposition from conservatives, progressives have always been behind social rights improvements - particularly in key areas such as the revision of the posting of workers directive and the work life balance directive. While the last Commission made some advancements on social rights, it is clear that progressive campaigning – both inside and outside the Commission – was again the force behind the roadmap announced today.

The PES has called for a European Social Action Plan to fully implement the Pillar, and Nicolas Schmit today took the first steps to deliver on this ambition. The roadmap will be an important tool to push social issues onto the agenda of a recalibrated European Semester, supporting children, decent wages, and fair working conditions.

The PES has also been a vocal supporter of decent minimum wages in Europe. In some member states, minimum wages are currently below the subsistence minimum and are thus insufficient to prevent income poverty. Adequate minimum wages, which push up pay from the base, reduce wage inequality and ensure all workers can afford to feed their families and meet their living costs. Minimum wages also support workers and trade unions to negotiate better collective pay rises.

A European framework for minimum wages will not mandate a single European minimum wage or set a specific national minimum wage. It clearly sets fair minimum wages as an objective in EU policy, allowing for a decent standard of living to be reached either through a minimum wage or by collective bargaining, in accordance with existing national practices.

Combined, these proposals for a framework on minimum wages and the roadmap to fully implement the social pillar are an opportunity to improve the wellbeing of every citizen, supporting the unemployed and the low paid, promoting education, tackling discrimination, and providing for those in need.


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