The Euranet Plus radio network, in partnership with BFM Business, France, hosted a live debate from the European Parliament discussing the need for an EU minimum wage. EU data published in February 2015 shows huge differences in the minimum wage workers receive, depending on the countries in which they are employed.

Adjusted for differences in actual purchasing power, disparities between Member States are reduced from a ratio of 1 to 10 euros, to a ratio of 1 to 4. Twenty-two European Union Member States have introduce national minimum wages, six states haven’t done so. So, is it time to level the playing field?

European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has stated he would work towards introducing a minimum social wage in each member state. Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse introduced a minimum wage in 2014: it seems simple, but do German minimum pay rules apply to foreign lorry drivers using its roads? This issue divided MEPs evenly in a debate with transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc on March 25, 2015.

The bilingual debate was moderated by journalist Yann-Antony Noghès of BFM Business (in French) and Brian Maguire of the Euranet Plus News Agency in Brussels (in English). The  debate also featured students of the Euranet Plus campus radio network from Romania (UBB Radio, Cluj-Napoca), Spain (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – UAB) and Finland (Radio Moreni, Tampere).

The debate was broadcast live at the top of this web page and can be viewed on-demand in two parts on YouTube, one for each language on our YouTube channel.

  • Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 12:30 CEST
  • European Parliament, Studio 1, József Antall building, level -1, Brussels, Belgium

Part 1 | French | 12:30 – 13:15 CEST | moderator Yann-Antony Noghès | guests:

Part 2 | English | 13:15 – 14:00 CEST | moderator Brian Maguire | guests:

Ahead of the debate, we posted regular audios and features on our social media channels to bring the topic closer to our guests, fans and listeners. During the debate our fans were invited to post their questions to our guests and moderators.


Citizens’ Corner debate on minimum wage: Do we need minimum wages in the EU?

Background on the Citizens’ Corner debate

A worker in Luxembourg who receives the monthly minimum wage €1,923, the highest amount in the EU, gets 90% more than the same worker in Bulgaria (€184), the country which has the lowest minimum wage in the EU, according to Eurostat. However, Eurostat noted that when adjusted for differences in purchasing power, the disparities between member states are reduced from a ratio of 1 to 10 euros, to a ratio of 1 to 4 in purchasing power standards.

Eurostat has divided the 22 member states that have national minimum wages into three main groups. In January 2015, 10 countries had minimum wages below €500 per month: Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Croatia and Poland. In 5 other EU member states, minimum wages were between €500-€1,000 per month: Portugal, Greece, Malta, Spain and Slovenia. In the other 7 countries which have a minimum wages, the figures were above €1,000/month: the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg. Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden have not introduced a minimum income.

Eurostat said that the minimum wage decreased only in Greece compared to 2008 by 14%. The minimum wage has remained unchanged in Ireland. The highest increases between 2008 and 2015 were registered in Romania (+95%), Bulgaria (+64%), Slovakia (+58%), Latvia (+57%).

The question of whether Germany’s minimum pay rules should apply to foreign lorry drivers using its roads divided MEPs evenly in a debate with transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc on 25 March 2015. The European Commission is still assessing the implications of these rules, which the Germany partially suspended (for transit drivers) early this year, but they must in any event comply with EU law, Commissioner Bulc said.

Many speakers stressed the need to prevent social dumping and ensure fair competition among hauliers. Some suggested introducing an EU-wide minimum wage and urged the Commission to table proposals to protect drivers’ social rights and working conditions, including blacklisting companies which break rules.

The European Economic and Social Committee considered in an opinion in December 2013 that establishing a European minimum income will help to ensure economic and territorial cohesion, protect the fundamental rights of the individual, guarantee a balance between economic and social objectives and redistribute wealth and income fairly.

The EESC stressed the urgent need to guarantee an adequate minimum income in the European Union under a framework directive and calls on the Commission to undertake concerted action in response to the resolution on the European Platform against poverty and social exclusion adopted by the European Parliament in 2011.

Hermes of Messene, a copy of Hermes of Praxiteles by the Messenian sculptor Damophon / Flickr / Στέλιος Δ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Hermes of Messene: Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce

About ‘Citizens’ Corner’ debates

With the aim of getting as close as possible to the concerns of EU citizens and inspired by the “The 2010 EU Citizenship Report”, the “25 Key Actions to Improve Citizens’ Lives”, “The 2013 EU Citizenship Report”, along with the 12 new actions in six key areas put forward by the European Commission to further remove obstacles standing in the way of citizens’ enjoyment of their EU rights, Euranet Plus organizes monthly debates under the heading of “Citizens’ Corner”.

The aim is to provide information on the rights enjoyed by EU citizens, and also to reveal gaps which may remain between the applicable rules and regulations and the reality of citizens’ daily lives, particularly in cross-border situations. The debates provide the opportunity for open dialogue, contributing to new insights between all those involved.

About Euranet Plus: The most powerful radio network in Europe

euranetplus is a pan-European network of 15 leading radio stations – public and private – across the European Union. euranetplus reaches over 20 million listeners daily with its EU related content broadcasted on-air.

As an unrivalled brand for quality content on EU news   and producing and broadcasting in 14 official EU languages through its international, national and regional radio stations in 15 EU states, Euranet Plus broadcasts more than 1,300 hours of high quality EU related content on a yearly basis.

Offering high-quality EU news coverage, Euranet Plus programmes are specifically targeted towards member radios’ audiences, making the best use of the strength of the network of professional radio operators Europe-wide.

From Brussels to Europe: Euranet Plus News Agency

The network operates its own Euranet Plus News Agency in Brussels. This provides the network members with high quality, up-to-date information from heartbeat of the European Union and its member states.

Pooling EU related information and media content, the Euranet Plus News Agency offers insightful content from Brussels and Strasbourg as well as from its radio members all over Europe.

Euranet Plus thereby enriches the editorial coverage on EU affairs with truly transnational viewpoints going well beyond national borders.

Euranet Plus operates with full editorial independence.

Understanding Europe better

More than ever, the European Union has influence on the daily lives of European citizens. However, there is an evident lack of information on EU affairs. The Euranet Plus objective is to strengthen EU citizens’ awareness and understanding of EU affairs by better informing them and by stimulating exchange of opinions and debate. euranetplus aims to bridge the information gap between the EU and citizens, thereby promoting better mutual understanding in Europe.

Citizens’ Corner debate on minimum wage: Do we need minimum wages in the EU?


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