The EU should adopt a minimum wage and other measures of solidarity to ensure that the European Union’s “social dimension” does not disappear amid a bloc-wide austerity drive, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday.
“It is indispensable to agree on a European legal minimum wage,” the Luxembourg prime minister told the Economic Committee of the European Parliament.
Without such a step, he said, the EU “will lose the support of Europe’s working class.”
“The social dimension of the European Union is the bastard child of the economic and monetary union, but we must maintain it ... and talk about it in concrete, not abstract, terms,” Juncker said.
Seventeen of the 27 EU member-states have adopted the euro.
While people were promised that the single currency would bring improvement in living standards, what they have gotten instead is higher unemployment, the Eurogroup chief said.
Unemployment in the eurozone reached a record 11.8 percent in November.
Two euro countries that have been pressed to adopt austerity policies, Spain and Greece, are suffering jobless rates above 25 percent.
“I would have liked for us to have established a system of compensation for all the countries that are making those efforts that have been demanded from Brussels,” Juncker said.
After serving as Eurogroup president since 2005, Juncker plans to step down later this month. Most observers expect the position to go to Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.