Minimum Wages in European Union 2014

The minimum wage is set by the government as the minimum standard of guaranteed income (hourly/monthly) that a worker should receive for the work he/she performs. In 2014, there were 22 countries out of 28 in European Union, which had their national minimum wages set.

6 countries out of 28 have no minimum wage set by the government at all, but they have some collective bargaining agreements. Countries that don't have a minimum wage set by the government in European Union - Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, and Sweden.

Luxembourg 1921 2593.35
Belgium 1501 2026.35
Netherlands 1485 2004.75
Ireland 1461 1972.35
France 1455 1964.25
United Kingdom 1226 1655.1
Cyprus 870 1174.5
Slovenia 789 1065.15
Spain 752 1015.2
Malta 702 947.7
Greece 683 922.05
Portugal 565 762.75
Poland 405 546.75
Croatia 396 534.6
Estonia 355 479.25
Slovakia 352 475.2
Hungary 327 441.45
Latvia 320 432
Czech Republic 309 417.15
Lithuania 289 390.15
Romania 202 272.7
Bulgaria 173 233.55
Average 751.72 1014.83

As you can see from the table above - the highest minimum wage is set in Luxembourg ($2593) while the lowest is in Bulgaria ($233) making a gap of $2360 between those two countries.

Another interesting trend - Baltic states which lead the minimum wage table in the Former Soviet Union Space are at the end of the minimum wage table in the European Union.

Speaking of newcomers in the EU, after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, for now, it seems that just Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta has higher minimum wage than some of the old EU countries.

Map of the minimum wage in EU 2014

As you can see from the above map - there are some interesting trends. South European countries, like Spain, Portugal, and Greece have lower minimum wages than Benelux countries, France, UK, and Ireland. 

We have no data for Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, and Italy.  Speaking of Germany, it's awaited that starting in 2015, the minimum hourly wage there should be set at EUR 8.50.

EU newcomers in 2004 and 2007, except Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta, receives the least, compared to others.

Standard of Minimum Wage in the European Union

One more thing I would like to speak about - there have been some talks to introduce a standard of the minimum wage across all of the EU.  There are many who are against it, and many (perhaps from Eastern Europe who are for it). Some standards of the united minimum wage would help to raise the standard of living in these poorest countries.

Now, I not talking that the EU should introduce a minimum wage as it's in Luxembourg. This would raise a lot of mess in those Eastern European countries - mainly because I believe that the average salary there is not as high as the minimum wage in Western European countries. The mechanism for minimum wage could be simple - let's say it could be 75% of the average minimum wage in the EU.

Since this is Europe we are talking about, let's use Euro coins and banknotes as our currency to measure:

In 2014 average minimum wage in the EU was about EUR 750, 75% of it would be EUR 562.

Well, again, it doesn't mean Luxembourg, Belgium or France should decrease their minimum wage, no - let them have their minimum wages above the united minimum wage. In the scenario of a minimum wage of EUR 562, it would ask 10 countries to increase their minimum wage - of course,  it shouldn't be done overnight, but let's say in 5 years term.

For example Bulgaria - a minimum wage of 2014 - was EUR 173 - The goal of 2019 is EUR 562, on average it would ask 77 EUR increase in a year. Yeah, I know it sounds much, but if we are looking for a more socially equal Europe, that's the minimum we can do - increase the minimum wage for low-skilled workers.

Another example: Poland - minimum wage 2014 - EUR 405 - Goal 2019 EUR 562 - on average it would ask 31 EUR increase in a year.

Personally, I do believe it is possible to raise the minimum wage in European Union. Of course, the mechanisms could be slightly different than my offer, but it asks for only one - Political willingness. European Union should be more socially equal.