The European Commission presented its proposal on the European minimum wage today, 28 October 2020. The directive aims to guide and provide a framework for minimum wages in the European Union without specifying their actual level. The main objective of the proposal is to strengthen the role of the social partners and collective agreements. The proposal sets out requirements for the Member States to consult and cooperate with labour market organisations and to improve the operating conditions of the social partners.
Finland is a country with a high level of unionisation and extensive collective agreements. It is of paramount importance to us to preserve our own well-functioning system. The majority of EU Member States have a statutory minimum wage, but the Commission’s proposal specifically states that its purpose is not to require the States to introduce minimum wage legislation.
The minimum wage initiative has sparked a lively discussion both in Finland and in the EU. I believe it is important for us in Finland and in the Nordic countries to understand that, although we have well-functioning systems, this is not the case throughout Europe. In-work poverty and insufficient minimum wages are a real problem, which also hinder competition in the European Union.
Unlike the other Nordic countries, the Finnish Government has not adopted a predetermined position on the proposal. We have stated that we understand the proposal’s general objectives. We support improvements to workers’ wage and minimum protections at EU level. At the same time, we want to ensure that the directive does not undermine the functioning of our national system.
Now that the proposal has been presented, we will examine it carefully. We will of course listen with a keen ear to the social partners when we formulate the Government's position.
Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen