Timmermans calls on all EU members to adopt minimum wage

European commission Vice President Frans Timmermans (R) and former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski (L) during the debate on the future of the European Union in Warsaw, Poland, 6 May 2019 [Radek Pietruszka/EPA/EFE]

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Monday (6 May) called for each EU member to have a minimum wage equivalent to 60% of its median salary to reduce the bloc’s growing wealth gap.

All but six of the European Union’s 28 states already have a legal minimum wage, though levels vary starkly.

“We need a minimum wage in the European Union,” the Dutch politician, a socialist candidate for the top EU job in this month’s elections, said at a public debate in Warsaw.

“Sixty percent of the median wage in every member state, I mean,” he added.

In 2017, Eurostat data showed a range of minimum wages from Bulgaria’s 460 leva (€235 euros) a month gross to €1,999 in Luxembourg — or nine times as much.

Though the discrepancy shrinks to around a factor of three when the cost of living in each state is taken into account.

Opponents of the minimum wage see the policy as dragging down competitiveness, sovereignty as well as levelling down salaries.

The six EU members without an official minimum, which have their own arrangements to cover the basic needs of low earners are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden.

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