At its meeting on Monday, the European Union’s Employment and Social Policy Council reached an agreement on the proposed directive on adequate minimum wages, which is aimed at ensuring fair working conditions in the EU. This is a remarkable success for Slovenia, and especially Minister Janez Cigler Kralj, as the agreement between the Member States was assessed as unlikely to happen at the beginning of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Slovenia had given priority to the proposal for a directive, as one of the priorities of its presidency is “quality work for a quality life of all generations.” The negotiations were extremely difficult, as it was necessary to discuss the various concerns of the EU Member States, which had doubts about the adequacy of the legal basis for the agreement and did not want any major interventions to happen to the already-functioning systems at the national levels.
Member States have repeatedly praised Slovenia’s stance, which had an open and clear communication as the presiding country. It listened to all the Member States and followed their suggestions. “Decent and fair pay must be ensured for everyone’s work. This is about basic respect for people and their work. The directive is especially important for the most vulnerable members of our society, as it will help prevent in-work poverty,” said Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj, emphasising that he has done everything in his power to reach today’s agreement.
The results of this decision will affect more than 25 million workers
The result of all these negotiations is the Council’s position on the directive that was adopted on Monday, and which allows negotiations with the European Parliament to continue. The directive respects the competencies of countries and social partners in setting minimum wages while ensuring European added value by promoting effective transparency and stability procedures. It is estimated that the directive could increase minimum wages in more than half of the Member States and have a positive effect on more than 25 million workers.
The Council also adopted conclusions on sustainable work throughout the life cycle, prepared by the Slovenian presidency. As the presiding country of the EU Council, Slovenia has placed sustainable work at the centre of its presidency. We will only be able to solve the challenges of the changing world of work brought about by technological progress, globalisation, climate change and, above all, the ageing of the population by ensuring sustainable work for all. The Council agreed on the need to improve occupational safety, promote lifelong learning, find solutions to reconcile work and private life and create fair working conditions in order to ensure sustainable work throughout the life cycle of the individual.
With the agreement on the proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the EU and the adoption of the Council Conclusions on Sustainable Work that have been reached by the Council, the Slovenian Presidency has left a strong mark on the EU labour and social policies, as the other EU Member States also recognised our efforts to continuously improve the living and working conditions of the population and commit ourselves to this not only at the political but also at the legislative level.