Average minimum wages in EU countries rise “strongly”: study

Average minimum wages across the European Union (EU) had recently been raised “strongly”, according to a study published by the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) within the Hans Boeckler Foundation on Thursday.

Within one year, minimum wages in EU countries increased nominally by 6.0 percent and by 4.4 percent adjusted for inflation, according to the study. Both figures were “the second highest growth rates in the past two decades.”

Austria, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Italy were the only EU countries without a minimum wage, according to the study. For most of these countries, however, there was “a very high level of collective bargaining coverage.”

At the beginning of the year, 18 EU countries had increased minimum wages. Britain was planning an increase in the coming weeks. “2020 could be the year of the minimum wage in Europe,” said WSI wage experts Thorsten Schulten and Malte Luebker.

The study noted that the “more vigorous increases” were the result of debates and individual government initiatives aimed at “raising minimum wages to a level that would guarantee living standard.”

Within the EU, minimum wages at the beginning of 2020 showed a “considerable range”, from only 1.87 euros (2.03 U.S. dollars) per hour in Bulgaria to 12.38 euros (13.45 U.S. dollars) in Luxembourg, according to the WSI study.

At 9.35 euros per hour, the German minimum wage was “still noticeably lower” than the minimum wage level in most Western European countries with at least 9.66 euros per hour, the study noted.

Germany’s trade union ver.di has recently demanded to raise the minimum wage to at least 12 euros per hour in Germany. At the beginning of the year, the minimum wage in Germany was only raised by 0.16 cent.

“Far too many employees are not protected by collective labor agreements” in Germany, Ralf Kraemer of ver.di, told Xinhua on Thursday and stressed that legislative measures should “strengthen” the regulation of wages and working conditions through collective agreements.