EU Commissioner Damanaki sparks fresh debate about minimum wage

Comments by EU Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki sparked a new round of speculation about a possible further reduction to the minimum wage in Greece.

In a newspaper interview on Sunday, the Greek commissioner suggested that Brussels is still keeping its options open on whether the basic pay in Greece needs to fall below 586 euros per month.

“With regards to reducing the minimum wage in Greece and adopting new measures, all options are open and it is totally dependant on the implementation of the December agreement,” Damanaki told Sunday’s Eleftherotypia.

“The Commission leaves the issue open and focuses mainly on the need for there to be a dialogue with social partners before any changes.”

The commissioner’s comment prompted Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis to insist that there is no discussion about the minimum wage being reduced.

SYRIZA, however, said Damanakis’s comments left Prime Minister Antonis Samaras “exposed” and insisted that reducing the Greek minimum wage to the “eastern European” levels are part of the government’s commitments to its lenders via its bailout agreement.

Last week, European Commission Economic and Monetary Affairs spokesman Simon O’Connor stressed that there is no pressure on Greece to reduce the minimum wage after a 22 percent cut last year but he added that Athens has agreed to review the way that basic pay is agreed next year.

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