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EESC opinion: White paper on Pensions

12 Jul 2012
Adopted References: CESE 1582/2012 - SOC/457 Referral - COM(2012) 55 final Rapporteur: Dandea (Workers - GR II / Romania) Co-rapporteur: Pater (Various interests - GR III / Poland) Plenary Session: 482 - 11 Jul 2012 - 12 Jul 2012 (Summary Plenary Session) OJ C 299, 04.10.2012, p. 115-120

White paper - An Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions

Key points

  • Public pension systems are one of the most important components of the social security safety net. The Committee regrets that in its White Paper the Commission does not seek solutions for strengthening public pensions.
  • Pension systems do not operate in isolation from national economic systems. The Committee therefore calls on the Member States to ensure that their pension policies tie in closely with their labour-market, social-protection, fiscal and macro-economic policies.
  • The majority of Member States have directed their policies towards cutting expenditure, by raising the statutory retirement age and shifting to a pension-indexation system based on price increases. The Committee thinks that this approach could pose a social risk in the long run.
  • The Committee feels that the Member States should increase the revenues that fund their pension systems by boosting employment, improving the mechanisms for collecting contributions, and tackling undeclared work and tax evasion.
  • The Committee recommends that standards on minimum pensions or pension income protection mechanisms be included in future legislation to provide income above the poverty threshold.
  • In order to close the gap between the actual age of retirement and the statutory pension age, the Committee recommends the following measures: adapting workplaces to the skills and state of health of older workers, taking into account the hardness of certain jobs, improving access to training, preventing disabilities, making it easier to balance work and family and removing legal or other barriers to a longer working life.
  • The Committee is convinced that the legal framework for complementary retirement schemes should be improved, as these will play a role in the future adequacy and sustainability of pension systems.
  • As pension schemes are very different from life insurances services, the Committee doesn't support the stated aim of reviewing the IORP Directive, to maintain "a level playing field with Solvency II".
  • The Committee calls on the Member States to seek solutions to bridge the gap in pension rights between men and women caused by the rules and labour market practice.
  • The Committee encourages the Commission to follow through on its intention to use part of the ESF during the 2014-2020 programming period to support projects aimed at promoting a longer working life.