Eurozone states need common minimum wage, Juncker says

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean- Claude Juncker urged euro area governments to set a common minimum wage, saying it would foster goodwill from workers as governments in the region cut spending to overcome the debt crisis.

“We need a basis of social rights for workers, minimum social rights for workers, including of course one essential thing, a minimum wage — a legally compulsory minimum wage in the euro-zone member states,” Juncker, who also heads the group of euro area finance ministers, told a European Parliament committee today in Brussels. “Otherwise, we are going to lose the support of the working classes.”

Juncker, preparing to step down as chairman of the meetings of euro area finance chiefs, said the region is likely over the worst of the three-year-old debt crisis triggered by Greece. Market tensions have eased since European Central Bank President Mario Draghi vowed in July to do what’s needed to preserve the 17-nation euro and announced in September a bond-buying program for countries willing to sign up to budget-austerity conditions.

That followed more than some 486 billion euros in commitments for Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain’s banking system since 2010 to soothe markets and has left governments with the task of agreeing on any rescue terms as well as on centralized bank supervision led by the ECB.

“I think the worst probably is over, but what we still have to do is difficult,” said Juncker, who has been head of the group of euro-area finance ministers since 2005. His successor has yet to be designated. [Bloomberg]