Austrian Labour Minister rejects EU-wide minimum wage

The European Parliament are set to adopt a text that would be a huge step towards delivering a living wage to millions across the EU – but the directive’s future is now in question as a group of Nordic MEPs try to stop it in its tracks. [Shutterstock/Zerbor]

A few days ahead of the EU Social Summit in Porto, Austrian Labour Minister Martin Köcher of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) rejected the idea of an EU-wide minimum wage, claiming the EU lacks competence in the area of labour policy, and that the issue falls within the sole competence of member states.

The move comes only a few months after the ÖVP’s coalition partner, the Green Party, emphasised the need to take action and to initiate an EU-wide minimum wage at the upcoming Social Summit.

The biggest opposition party in the Austrian parliament – the Social Democrats – heavily criticised the ÖVP’s rejection and claimed that a binding EU minimum wage would be an important step towards a socially more responsible Europe.

The opposition also criticised the reluctance of the socially progressive Green party to step up to their conservative coalition partner. The Social Democrats stated that “once again, the Green Party has let itself be overrun by the ÖVP.”

While Austria will be represented by its conservative labour minister at the upcoming summit, critics argue that it would be more appropriate for the country’s Social Minister Wolfang Mückstein of the Green party to attend the summit. The development of a fully-fledged European Social Union is one of the political key issues of the Austrian Green Party.

(Oliver Noyan |

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