According to the WSI Institute which is part of the union-friendly Hans-Böckler foundation, 20 of the 27 EU member states have statutory minimum wages. 12 of these countries have increased the minimum wage since the beginning of 2008.
Following suit Great Britain, France and Ireland which had increased the lowest admissible hourly wages already in summer or autumn last year, most central and east European countries such as Malta, Spain and Portugal as well as Belgium and the Netherlands raised their respective statutory minimum wages.
In 2007 Great Britain increased its minimum wage by 3.2% from 5.35 pounds to 5.52 pounds. Given that the exchange rate of the British pound against the Euro has sharply fallen in recent months, the increase of wages, however, appeared like a decrease when converting it from pound in Euro, relatifies Dr. Thorsten Schulten who is an expert at the WSI, the minimum wage increase in Great Britain.
In West European countries minimum wages are now above eight Euros. Since January 2007 these increased by between 2% in France and more than 4% in Ireland. In Luxemburg, which has the highest statutory minimum wage in the EU, the situation did not change last year, but the next increase is planned for March 2008.
In Southern Europe the lowest admissible hourly wages amount to between 2.55 Euros and 3.80 Euros. In Spain, Portugal and Greece minimum wages increased by more than 5% each over the year 2007 and in Malta it grew by about 2%.
In the central and east European countries minimum wages are the lowest. However, most of these countries are continuously and constantly raising it. Thus, in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania as well as in the Baltic States wages increased by between 20 and 33% last year. In Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia these increased by between 3 and 7%. Only in the Czech Republic there was no increase at all. According to the WSI institute, the widespread existence and continuous raising of minimum wages in most European countries demonstrated that such wages are considered to be an advantage.