EU’s social policy should not interfere with Member States’ competences
Today the Council published its general approach on the European Commission’s proposals for directives on minimum wages and on pay transparency. BusinessEurope did not support the two directive proposals because they deeply intervened in the competence of Member States and social partners, weakened collective bargaining, and put excessive burdens on companies.
We recognise that the Council’s general approach on minimum wages has improved the proposal. For example, it gives more clarity that the directive’s provisions do not create individual rights for workers, do not impose obligations on Member States and give them flexibility to define what is an adequate wage. We remain concerned about the effects in practice, and it is now essential that such guarantees are safeguarded and legally watertight.
On pay transparency, we appreciate the Council’s better recognition of social partners’ own approaches to deal with the issue, and more possibilities given to companies to objectively justify pay differences. However, the Council’s general approach remains overly detailed and undermines companies’ competitiveness by adding bureaucratic procedures.
BusinessEurope’s Director General Markus J. Beyrer said: “Europe’s social dimension will not be improved if rules are imposed top down by the EU institutions. The Council’s general approaches on minimum wages and on pay transparency are a step in the right direction compared to the European Commission’s proposals. Business strongly calls on the upcoming French Presidency to defend these outcomes in the upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament, and to make sure that the remaining companies’ concerns are addressed.
The bottom line is that pay is among the key competences of social partners in the Member States. The EU may promote collective bargaining but respecting social partner autonomy must come first. Avoiding political bias also means to secure a balanced approach to employers and workers”.