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The proposed EU minimum wage directive: a first look

The European Commission has published a proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages for workers across the EU.

On 28 October 2020, the European Commission published a draft of its proposed Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages in the European Union.

The stated aim of the Directive is to create ‘a framework to improve the adequacy of minimum wages and the access of workers to minimum wage protection in the EU’. The Commission is particularly seeking to tackle in-wage poverty and the failure of minimum wage levels to keep pace with other wages across the EU.

In order to reach these objectives, the Directive will seek to:

  • improve the adequacy of statutory minimum wages in Member States that use them;
  • promote collective bargaining in all Member States, and particularly those where collective bargaining applies to less than 70% of workers; and
  • put in place monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for ensuring compliance.


The proposal does not seek to harmonise minimum wage levels across the EU or to establish a uniform method for setting minimum wages in the Member States, which will remain free to choose how they achieve an adequate national minimum wage. The Directive will set minimum standards: states who already meet or surpass these will not have to make any changes. Equally states will be free to choose to go further than these minimum standards.

Next steps

Now that it has been published the Commission’s proposed Directive will go to the European Council and Parliament for approval. When it takes effect, member states will have two years to implement measures to comply with its provisions. After five years, the Commission will carry out an evaluation of the Directive and its implementation.