Danish government to continue fight against EU minimum wage directive

Denmark’s government says it is prepared to go to the EU Court to reverse an EU directive on the minimum wage.

Danish government to continue fight against EU minimum wage directive
Denmark's government plans to take the EU to court to reverse a minimum wage directive. File photo: Yves Herman/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The new government is to take the EU to court to prevent it enforcing minimum wage rules in Denmark, it states in the three-party coalition agreement presented last week.

“In Denmark it is the labour market parties which negotiate the terms of wages. On that basis, labour market parties are also against the EU directive in minimum wages,” the agreement states.

An EU directive on minimum wages was recently adopted, but Denmark and Sweden are both opposed because of the established labour models in those two countries, by which wages are set through negotiations between trade unions and employers.

The EU Commission has stated that it will respect the Danish model and will not force the country to code a minimum wage into law, but the government wants the directive to be removed completely.

“Regardless what the consequences of the directive are here and now, it’s a slippery slope that the EU is ratified directives on wages. That is why we in the government have decided to take an annulment suit to the EU Court with a view to have the directive ruled invalid,” employment minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen said in a written comment to news wire Ritzau.

The case will attempt to have the directive nullified on the grounds that it does not comply with the EU Treaty, Ritzau writes.

Trade Unions and the left wing party Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) have both previously called for Denmark to go to the EU Court over the issue.

It is not certain that Denmark stands to gain overall from such a lawsuit, an expert said.

“It might be that you can bring this lawsuit and win politically. But it could have some political consequences,” Laust Høgedahl, professor and labour market researcher at Aalborg University, told Ritzau.

“If Denmark goes in and throws a spanner in the works of this directive, we [could] then become isolated in a European context and become unpopular with the other countries. So it might be a legal victory but it could also be a political defeat,” he said.

READ ALSO: Why is Denmark opposed to an EU minimum wage law?

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Denmark’s defence minister takes sick leave following illness

Denmark’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen is to take sick leave for an undetermined period, two months after leading the Liberal (Venstre) party into coalition government.

Denmark’s defence minister takes sick leave following illness

The 49-year-old was admitted briefly to hospital last week for “nausea”, just after returning from Ukraine.

“I was eager to go back to work immediately. But now that it’s been a few days I have to realise I’m not ready for this,” he said on Facebook.  “I have been unusually busy for a long time. Now my body is sending me a signal that it’s time to take a break, if not it’s going to end badly,” he said.

“The bottom line is that, on the advice of my doctor, I need to unplug for a while and take leave. And then I will return when I’m ready.”

Economy Minister Troels Lund Poulsen will fill in for Ellemann-Jensen during his absence, the government said.

His absence comes as Danes protest against government plans to abolish a public holiday, Great Prayer Day. The government says the plan will help fund the defence budget.

Ellemann-Jensen has led the Liberal party since late 2019. The party is traditionally the second largest in the Danish parliament and senior member of the ‘blue bloc’ alliance of conservative parties.

It suffered a poor result in the 2022 election with its 13 percent share of the vote representing 10 points less than its vote share in 2019. Ellemann-Jensen subsequently took the party into coalition government with two other parties including erstwhile rivals the Social Democrats.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s Social Democrats in worst opinion poll since 2015