The OECD and the Lisbon Council see no major problems with the controversial German labour market reform. But there is a downside, too.

Minimum wage is and remains a topic of debate in Berlin. Even before the grand coalition had agreed on details, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble presented some alarming figures in an internal working document. The introduction of a minimum hourly wage of 8.50 by 2017 could destroy at least 600,000 jobs.

The German employers are also worried. They fear that it is precisely the most vulnerable in the labour market - people without a college degree, the long-term unemployed and the low-skilled - who will suffer, as the minimum wage will make it difficult for them to enter the labour market.

However, these predictions are themselves controversial. The employers' association BDA admits that the planned transition period will give some relief - and Schauble has not repeated his controversial estimate after the submission of the final coalition agreement. Schauble's tactical aim with these "horror figures" was primarily to put pressure on the SPD, writes business journalist Mark Schieritz of Die Zeit. There is no established economic method to estimate the consequences of a given minimum wage for the labour market, he stresses.

But what about the consequences for Europe? Can a German minimum wage boost domestic demand and thus stimulate the economy in Germany and its neighbours? Or will it lead to a weakening of competitiveness and thus create new problems for Europe? For the OECD, the answer is clear: a minimum wage is better than the current system based on regional and sectoral agreements. Their reasoning: a legal minimum wage would help first and foremost the workers on low pay. They would consume significantly more if they make more money. This in turn would boost domestic demand - and reduce Germany's export surplus.

This should satisfy the European Commission, which has initiated an in-depth investigation into the current German surplus. The authorities in Brussels have long been calling for the introduction of a minimum wage. Apart from Malta, Germany is the only EU country...

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