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Timmermans calls on all EU members to adopt minimum wage

European Commissioner and European Socialist party's candidate for the European parliament elections, Frans Timmermans speaks during a campaign meeting of German Social Democratic Party's (SPD) on May 6, 2019 in Berlin
European Commissioner and European Socialist party's candidate for the European parliament elections, Frans Timmermans speaks during a campaign meeting of German Social Democratic Party's (SPD) on May 6, 2019 in Berlin AFP
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Warsaw (AFP)

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Monday called for each EU member to have a minimum wage equivalent to 60 percent of its median salary to reduce the bloc's growing wealth gap.

All but six of the European Union's 28 states already have a legal minimum wage, though levels vary starkly.

"We need a minimum wage in the European Union," the Dutch politician, a socialist candidate for the top EU job in this month's elections, said at a public debate in Warsaw.

"Sixty percent of the median wage in every member state, I mean," he added.

In 2017, Eurostat data showed a range of minimum wages from Bulgaria's 460 leva (235 euros, $263) a month gross to 1,999 euros in Luxembourg -- or nine times as much.

Though the discrepancy shrinks to around a factor of three when the cost of living in each state is taken into account.

Opponents of the minimum wage see the policy as dragging down competitiveness, sovereignty as well as levelling down salaries.

The six EU members without an official minimum, which have their own arrangements to cover the basic needs of low earners are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden.

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