A total of 21 out of the 27 EU Member States now have national minimum wages – only Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden do not, as of 1 January 2020.
Monthly minimum wages are generally below €600 in eastern Europe, and above €1,500 in the north-west of the EU.
The 21 member states that have national minimum wages can be divided into three main groups, based on the level in euro.
In January 2020, Bulgaria had the lowest gross minimum wage (€312) across the EU. Nine other member states (predominantly located in the east of the bloc) followed, with minimum wages between €400 and €600, on average, per month, including:
- Latvia (€430),
- Romania (€466),
- Hungary (€487),
- Croatia (€546),
- Czech Republic (€575),
- Slovakia (€580),
- Estonia (€584),
- Lithuania (€607) and
- Poland (€611).
In five other member states, located mainly in the south of the EU, minimum wages ranged between €700 and just over €1,000 per month, including: Portugal (€741), Greece (€758), Malta (€777), Slovenia (€941) and Spain (€1,050).
In the remaining seven countries, all located in the west and north of the EU, minimum wages were above €1,500 per month: France (€1,539), Germany (€1,584), Belgium (€1,594), the Netherlands (€1,636), Ireland (€1,656) and Luxembourg (€2,142).
For comparison, the federal minimum wage in the United States was equivalent to €1,119 per month in January 2020.
Across the 21 member states, the highest minimum wage was almost seven times higher than the lowest.
However, the disparities in minimum wages across the member states are considerably smaller once price-level differences are taken into account.
Minimum wages in states with lower price levels become relatively higher when expressed in purchasing power standard (PPS), and relatively lower in member states with higher price levels.
By eliminating price differences, minimum wages ranged from €579 PPS per month in Latvia, to €618 PPS in Bulgaria, to €1,705 PPS in Luxembourg – meaning that the highest minimum wage was more than three times higher than the lowest.