The gap between textile labour costs in eastern and western Europe has narrowed according to Eschborn-based textile association, Gesamttextil. 

In 2002, Slovakia's labour costs rose nearly 9 per cent to around €2.40 an hour, Hungary's increased 17 per cent to €3.02, and Czech Republic's 24 per cent to €3.44.

Only Polish labour costs, on average €3.06 an hour, stayed similar.

Western Europe's labour costs showed less change. Germany's wages rose 3 per cent to €20.59 in the west, and 4 per cent to €11.56 in the east.

Denmark remains the top-paying country with wages on average of €23.19 an hour.

Analysts have predicted that labour costs in all old and new EU countries will equalise over the coming decade.