1,870 euros: this is the difference between the highest minimum wage, Luxembourg with almost 2,202 euros per month, and Bulgaria, which is at the bottom of the table on European minimum wages. 21 of the 27 countries have a minimum wage, let’s take stock of the legal remuneration in the European Union.
Choosing your expatriation in Europe based on… the minimum wage! The debate on the SMIC (guaranteed minimum growth wage in France) is raging. Should there be a European SMIC, that is, equal pay in all EU countries, or should there be an “implementation of adequate minimum wages”? If the latest EU Council meeting on 7 December is anything to go by, there is an inclination towards the latter. This measure to increase minimum wages, particularly in Eastern European countries whose purchasing power is well below the European average, would not affect the six EU countries that have not introduced minimum wages.
Three groups of minimum wages
Eurostat figures from July 2021 classify European countries into three broad categories:
- A first tier where wages are below 750 euros.
- The second with wages between 750 and 1,500 euros.
- The last, highest tier, where the amount exceeds 1,500 euros.
Among the countries with the highest minimum wage: Luxembourg with €2,201.93 per month. Ireland (€1,723.80) and Belgium (€1,625.72) lead the way among European countries with the highest minimum wage. Six out of 21 countries exceed €1,500 per month.
The countries listed between €750 and €1,500 include Greece (€758.33), Portugal (€775.83) and Spain (€1,108.33).
Finally, among the European countries with the lowest minimum wage, 9 countries are below €750 per month, with Bulgaria as figurehead at €332.34.
|Minimum wage in the European Union in 2021|
|Country||Gross monthly salary|
Of the 27 member states of the European Union, 6 countries: Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden do not have a legal minimum wage. For these countries, minimum wages are not set by the state but determined by branch agreements or collective bargaining between the social partners.
Minimum wage v/s Cost of living: choosing your country of expatriation in Europe
A high minimum wage is not always synonymous with a good quality of life! To have a more precise vision of the comfort of life in European countries, it is preferable to look at the purchasing power of these same countries. Bear in mind that purchasing power is the quantity of goods and services that one can buy with one’s salary. It depends on two factors: the income level and the price level.
According to a study, Purchasing Power Europe 2020, drawn up on the basis of data available in July 2020 by the GfK group, the ranking is roughly similar.
In first place is Luxembourg with 34,191 euros of purchasing power per capita, followed by Denmark (27,621 euros) and Austria (24,232 euros).
Spain has a purchasing power that is below the European average with 14,709 euros per capita. Georgia offers a lower cost of living than its neighbours.
The “World Happiness Report”, a United Nations (UN) study to qualify the level of happiness by country
What if purchasing power was not the only attribute to classify the best countries in Europe?
Each year the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) publishes its World Happiness Report. This report ranks the “national happiness” of each country based on respondents’ evaluation of their own life in correlation with various factors of (quality of) life: life expectancy in good health, perceived generosity, corruption, freedom of life choices, gross domestic product, etc.
Published last March, among the 10 happiest countries in the world, we can find Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg and Austria.
So, have you made your choice?
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