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The politics of the European Minimum Wage: Overcoming ideological, territorial and institutional conflicts in the EU multi-level arena

Conflict
European Politics
European Union
EU6
Jonathan Zeitlin
University of Amsterdam
Nathalie Brack
Université Libre de Bruxelles

Thursday 15:00 - 16:30 (16/02/2023)


Abstract

Speakers: Marcello Natili, Stefano Ronchi Until recent times, the idea of a coordinated European minimum wage (EMW) policy had never taken concrete shape, due to the heterogeneity of national wage-setting and collective bargaining arrangements, uncertain EU competence on the matter, and widespread scepticism not only on the side of conservative parties and business organisations, but also among trade unions. In October 2020, however, the von der Leyen Commission launched a proposal for a Directive on EMW. This raises several puzzles. First, how did the EMW make it to the policy agenda of the Commission, despite the many political, territorial and institutional tensions behind it? What coalitions pushed the proposal forward? And, on the other hand, what political backlash did the launch of the EMW proposal provoke across different countries and political groups? Based on a careful reconstruction of the policy process, substantiated by the analysis of official documents, news-media data and thirteen interviews with key actors, this article investigates the multilevel politics of EMW. It shows that the emergence of pro-minimum wage coalitions in key-member states and the increase of party-competition dynamics at the EU level were crucial to overcome the manifold lines of conflict that had long braked EU initiatives on minimum wage coordination.