On 28 October 2020, the European Commission presented a proposal for the adoption of an EU directive on an adequate minimum wage. The directive proposes, among other things, elements that the national level of wages must contain in order to be “reasonable”. The proposed directive now belongs to the national governments of the EU Member States and the European Parliament, and it is too early to say that this directive will have sufficient support to be adopted. The ball is now in the court of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. It is their duty to ensure that the draft directive is amended to set truly fair minimum wages for all workers and to provide for a critical mass of reimbursement of collective agreements throughout the union. The adoption of a European directive on appropriate minimum wages would also mean that the European Court of Justice would be competent to interpret the directive and perhaps set a new precedent for the level of national wages and the way in which these levels are set. The proposed directive certainly has the potential to improve the wages of millions of European low-wage workers and strengthen their tariff position. However, to ensure its effectiveness, it is necessary to recognize that much more needs to be done to improve the situation, particularly with regard to more precise and binding criteria for adequate minimum wages and more practical instruments to encourage collective bargaining. The real level of wages is a national competence of each EU Member State, but the directive proposes, among other things, elements that must include the national level of wages to be `reasonable`. Coverage of collective agreements varies considerably in the EU-27: more than 90% of workers are subject to collective agreements, for example in Austria, France and Belgium, while in some Central and Eastern European countries, coverage falls well below 20%. In many Member States, coverage has been steadily declining.
Research on the evolution of working time in the 21st century focuses on working hours and regulations in the EU. The report examines the main trends and milestones that characterize the evolution of key aspects of collectively agreed working time in the EU during the first decade of the 21st century. In contrast to the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, minimum wages and strong wage negotiations are no longer seen as obstacles to “flexibility” and “competitiveness” but as a precondition for inclusive growth in Europe.