Nicolas Schmit told the European Parliament he is opposed to a common minimum wage but pledged to fight discrimination and poverty if confirmed as European Commissioner for jobs.
Photo: Ph. Buissin/European Union 2019 - EP
Luxembourg’s former labour minister revealed his priorities of boosting employment and securing social rights.
The LSAP candidate to be the next Luxembourg commissioner, Nicolas Schmit, was centre stage at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday morning as he faced questions from MEPs.
Speaking in English and French Schmit, who served as labour minister from 2009 to 2018, said in his opening statement that “the strength of the European model is to reconcile economic and social issues and to fully incorporate the environmental dimension.”
He said he wanted to boost employment and to promote a well-skilled workforce to respond to the challenges of digital and climate transition.
Schmit also pledged to put social rights for all and social inclusion at the centre of his priorities. Watch the video of his opening statement here:
Schmit then replied to questions including one from Brexit party MEP Matthew Patten who charged that “when it comes to jobs, the European Commission is institutionally racist.” Schmit responded that he was not naïve and was aware that there were vulnerable populations who are suffering, and he appealed that the EU be allows the right instruments in order to implement the good principals to tackle inequality everywhere, “including in our own institutions”. Watch the video here:
Schmit told the parliament that he will fight for the implementation of minimum standards aimed at tackling revenue disparities across the EU. But he said he was opposed to the creation of a common minimum wage across the EU, arguing instead for work on a convergence. “If we create a framework for a minimum income, it will have an impact on all salaries, and it will also be useful in the fight against social dumping,” Schmit said.
He gave an impassioned plea for efforts to be stepped up to reduce poverty. “Child poverty is the worst thing, it is destroying the future of these persons,” Schmit said. “Being a poor child often means you will be a poor adult. It’s terrible for the individual, but it is also terrible for society.”