In Sweden, the government, the opposition, unions and employers all agree that the best thing is that no EU law on minimum wages has been proposed.
Since a European Commission bill last year, the government has put its heels on the ground. But after the text of the law was upheld and inundated with other EU governments for a year, the text was watered down to the point that the government and LO now don’t think it will affect the Swedish wage model.
On Monday, Labor Minister Eva Nordmark will meet with fellow European ministers to give the green light for a compromise proposal.
On Friday, a majority in the Riksdag EU Commission supported the government’s position, while moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats opposed it.
The collective agreement form that exists in SwedenThe law highlights Denmark, Finland, Austria, Cyprus and Italy as role models in law. And in 21 countries in the European Union that have a minimum wage instead, the law aims to cover a larger proportion of workers.
The bottom line is that all workers should be able to live on their wages, but perhaps above all to reduce wage dumping in the EU as a result of low wage competition from Eastern and Central Europe.
At the top of the Swedes’ wish list was for Sweden to receive an official exemption from EU rules – in the same way that an EU ban does not apply to a ban on snus in Sweden, and Swedish herring may exceed EU maximum values for toxins.
But the rest of the EU gang did not agree to such an exemption, as it would open the door for lower-wage countries to demand exemptions of their own.
Instead, the entire text of the law was sprinkled with references to the collective agreement form and the national wage fixing—every other section has now been added to such fireworks.
Perhaps the most important change is that the text now does not require that at least 70 percent of workers have collective agreements, in countries that have such agreements. Previously, there was concern on the Swedish side that the European Court of Justice would hit Sweden on the toes if the collective agreement coverage fell below 70 per cent.
But no matter how Sweden votes at Monday’s EU meeting, the text will pass. Simply put, there are not enough voiceless states.
The Swedish and Danish governments hate EU law equally. But now that it is clear that they cannot stop the law, they will choose different paths: Denmark does not vote anyway, to express their displeasure. Sweden votes yes, in order to be able to influence the next step, negotiations with the European Parliament.
The most common thing when EU governments negotiate new EU laws is that all countries support compromise. Criticism is made in internal negotiations, not by voting against the final product.
But there are different schools. When Britain joined the European Union, it was the British government that voted most often against a joint settlement. On the other hand, France in principle never votes against the final text.
This is not to say that the concessions made by the EU were generally closer to Paris than to London – on the contrary, the British often went through with their reforms. On the other hand, the French considered that they benefited from sitting around the negotiating table to the end and won domestic policy points by showing that they were responsible for the laws of the European Union.
Alternatively, Britain’s politicians could win on their soil by taking the fight to ‘Brussels’, and they were able to bypass Britain’s many official exceptions by issuing an ultimatum.
Denmark now follows the British School, while Sweden follows the French School.
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