The European Commission wants EU member states to lift their minimum wages and determine better standards for setting them, it said as it proposed a new directive on Wednesday.
Minimum wages have not grown proportionately to economic growth in every EU country, leaving an increasing number of people in poverty even when employed, a senior EU official said.
“There is no doubt, and the evidence we have is very clear, that there is an increase in the European Union in the share of low paid jobs. Also if we look at the wage distribution, it has become more uneven in many, many member states in the sense that lower wages grow much slower than the higher ones,” he said.
In Bulgaria, the minimum wage lies at just above 300 euros per month (350 dollars), in contrast to Luxembourg’s 2,142 euros.
The proposed directive would still need to be approved by the 27 EU countries and negotiated with the European Parliament.
The directive would foresee that countries with statutory minimum wages would have to “define clear and stable criteria to assess the adequacy of minimum wages.”
The commission said its one example could be setting minimum wage at at least 60 per cent of gross median pay and 50 per cent of the gross average wage. This, the commission said, “can help guide the assessment” on whether minimum wages are fair.
The new directive would not enshrine the 60-per-cent criterion into EU law, the commission stressed.
In the bloc, 21 countries have statutory minimum wage, whereas six countries rely on union negotiations to set minimum wages.