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11/12/2016

Survey: Minimum wages uneven in EU

Social Europe & Jobs

Survey: Minimum wages uneven in EU

Most EU member states have a minimum wage.

[JT/Flickr]

New EU data shows that there are huge differences in the minimum wage workers receive, depending on the countries in which they’re employed. 

A worker in Luxembourg who receives the monthly minimum wage  €1,923, the highest amount in the EU, gets 90% more than the same worker in Bulgaria (€184), the country which has the lowest minimum wage in the EU, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU.

However, Eurostat noted that when adjusted for differences in purchasing power, the disparities between member states are reduced from a ratio of 1 to 10 euros, to a ratio of 1 to 4 in purchasing power standards.

Among the 22 member states that have national minimum wages, Eurostat has divided them into three main groups. In January 2015, ten countries had minimum wages below €500 per month: Bulgaria (€184), Romania (€218), Lithuania (€300), the Czech Republic (€332), Hungary (€333), Latvia (€360), Slovakia (€380), Estonia (€390), Croatia (€396) and Poland (€410).

In five other member states, minimum wages were between €500 and €1,000 per month: Portugal (€589), Greece (€684), Malta (€720), Spain (€757) and Slovenia (€791).

And in the remaining seven countries, minimum wages were well above €1,000 per month: the United Kingdom (€1,379), France (€1,458), Ireland (€1,462), Germany (€1,473), Belgium and the Netherlands (both €1,502) and Luxembourg (€1,923).

Eurostat said that the minimum wage only decreased in Greece compared to 2008, a trend which the current left-wing government is trying to change. Since 2008, the Greek minimum wage has dropped by 14%. While the minimum wage has remained unchanged in Ireland, other countries have lifted the wage drastically. The highest increases between 2008 and 2015 were registered in Romania (+95%), Bulgaria (+64%), Slovakia (+58%) and Latvia (+57%). 

The minimum wage has been a hot topic in the EU over the past years, especially in 2014, when Germany introduced a minimum wage, and when the issue was being debated as part of the European Parliament and Commission President candidate elections. 

Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker has stated on many occasions that he would work towards introducing a minimum social wage in each member state. Addressing the Parliament in July, before a vote to confirm his appointment, Juncker announced, “For all countries in the European Union, we set in place a minimum social wage, a minimum income, a guaranteed minimum income.”

Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden are the only EU member states which have not introduced a minimum wage.