EU push for minimum wages: opposition in the north

The EU Commission wants to commit the member states to establishing minimum wages which could be implemented either by law or through agreements between the social partners. In Denmark and Sweden, two of the six EU states that do not yet have a minimum wage, there is opposition to the move - also among trade unions. In the Scandinavian press, however, Brussels' initiative has triggered a more positive response.

Open/close all quotes
Expressen (SE) /

Playing the spoilsport

Sweden should welcome the proposal, also because the Commission explicitly recommends principles such as free collective bargaining, which Sweden believes it invented, writes Expressen:

“Sweden (as well as Denmark) hasn't achieved a political victory of this kind across the board since we convinced the EU to take equality seriously. Are people celebrating this? No, Swedish unions and employers are dissatisfied because the EU is meddling with the labour market. The conservative parties are pointing to unacceptable supranationalism. Oh. What a shame that the EU didn't select any of Sweden's proposals for lifting low-wage workers out of poverty. Namely by ... and by ... Oh, right. There never has been a proposal from Sweden on how to counter growing poverty in Europe.”

Politiken (DK) /

We owe it to the working poor

Politiken criticises that the Danish trade unions in particular are opposing the proposal:

“Almost ten percent of European workers are paid so little that they are effectively the 'working poor': those who are poor even though they have a job. We owe them a decent life and a decent working life. We must find a model that both secures well-functioning labour markets in the north and guarantees decent wages to workers, often from Central and Eastern Europe, who need protection. Denmark should advocate in this regard, not least because it has become apparent here that the EU benefits from the freedom of movement. Solidarity does not end at the country's borders.”