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European Commission wants to protect the Swedish model

Yesterday, the European Commission presented a proposal for a framework for adequate minimum wages across EU Member States. The Government welcomes the fact that the proposal will not impose an obligation on Sweden to introduce a statutory minimum wage or make collective agreements universally applicable.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced when she took office that she intended to present a legal proposal on minimum wages during her tenure. Today, the Commission proposed an EU directive. It proposes a framework at EU level to ensure adequate minimum wage levels and workers’ access to minimum wage protection, either through statutory minimum wages or wages set by collective agreements. In the proposal, the Commission writes that the Directive does not interfere with the freedom of Member States to either set statutory minimum wages or promote access to minimum wage protection through collective agreements. It is explicitly stated that the Directive does not entail an obligation on Member States to introduce statutory minimum wages or make collective agreements universally applicable, which the Government welcomes.

The Government, in close dialogue with the social partners, has worked to ensure that the proposal on minimum wages is not legally binding. The Government also has particularly close cooperation with Denmark, which has a similar labour market model to that in Sweden.

“I am strongly critical of EU interference in wage formation. But I can also say that the Commission has designed a proposal that respects countries where wages are solely set through collective agreements. It is now important that we examine the proposal carefully and continue to work closely with other countries,” says Minister for Employment Eva Nordmark.

Essentially, the Government remains critical of the EU’s decision to move forward with a legally binding directive. Sweden, in cooperation with other relevant actors, will continue to make it clear that the EU should not interfere in the Swedish collective agreement model.

“Addressing social challenges is important for the cohesion of the entire EU. But proposals from the EU to achieve this must not risk destroying wage formation in countries such as Sweden, where it’s already working well. The Government will not accept the EU deciding which wages should apply in Sweden. Trade unions and employers will continue to negotiate conditions and wages in the Swedish labour market,” says Ms Nordmark.


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