Jean-Claude Juncker wants all EU states to have to pay a minimum wage
Brussels boss Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU should bring in new laws to enforce certain standards across the bloc, which is becoming increasingly riven by huge inequalities.
He called for a Europe-wide minimum wage but stressed that it would still be up to individual countries, and not Brussels, to set how much workers should be paid.
Mr Juncker also called for a law forcing countries to pay benefits to all people seeking work which is likely to anger most member states, which have varying restrictions on jobseeker's allowances.
The chief eurocrat made the remarks as Europe faces a growing popularity crisis, with nationalist politicians on the march in Italy, France, and the Netherlands.
Six EU countries currently have no minimum wage
Germany only introduced a minimum wage in 2014
Populist leaders like Italy's Beppe Grillo and France's Marine Le Pen have made huge capital out of the scandalous inequalities within the EU and the disastrous impact free movement and the euro have had on low paid workers.
Mr Juncker said: "There should be a minimum salary in each country of the European Union.
“There is a level of dignity we have to respect.”
There is a level of dignity we have to respect
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He added that the policy would help reduce "social dumping" – the practice of shipping cheap migrant labour across borders – and would initially be rolled out just to eurozone countries.
Of the 28 EU member states just six – Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden – do not have a statutory legal minimum wage.
But the amounts paid to workers do vary widely across the bloc. Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU of just under 2,000 euros a month. Bulgaria, at under 250 euros, has the lowest.
On top of that the payment of benefits, and in particular jobseekers' allowance, is also vastly different between countries.
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Britain unsurprisingly has one of the most generous regimes in the bloc, with people automatically entitled to £71.70 a week.
But in many other member states there is a requirement to have worked and paid tax for a minimum period before becoming eligible.
The EU Commission is expected to put forward its proposals within the next few weeks and ahead of March's summit in Rome, where eurocrats will celebrate the 60th birthday of the Brussels project.