"For too many people, work no longer pays," von der Leyen told the European Parliament in an annual policy speech. "Dumping wages destroys the dignity of work, penalises the entrepreneur who pays decent wages and distorts fair competition in the Single Market," she said.
The issue is politically tricky so the Commission is not trying to set a single EU minimum wage or to impose one minimum wage setting system for all of the 27 countries in the bloc.
Instead, it wants to ensure there is a collective bargaining for wages in place, that different national systems have clear and stable criteria, that trade unions and employers are involved in the process, that there are few exemptions and that there are monitoring mechanisms in place.
"I am a strong advocate of collective bargaining and the proposal will fully respect national competencies and traditions," von der Leyen said.
Minimum wages vary widely in EU countries -- in July 2020 ranged from 312 euros a month in Bulgaria to 2,142 euro a month in Luxembourg.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Marine Strauss)