Speaking at the NAPF (National Association of Pension Funds) conference about the future of pensions, Commissioner Andor explained how the EU can best support its Member States in achieving adequate, sustainable and safe pensions for their citizens: "as part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission has called for increases in pensionable ages and reductions in early retirements. This also means ensuring that such changes lead to higher effective retirement ages, which in turn brings with it lifelong learning, health and safety at work and active ageing".
As a result of the public consultation on the future of pensions organised by the Commission, the forthcoming White Paper "will continue the approach to pensions of making the links and synergies – and where necessary recognising the trade-offs – between differing areas and objectives", Mr Andor explained.
Mr Andor took the opportunity to remind that 2012 will be the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and will provide a platform to discuss and encourage active ageing policies across Europe.
Manchester business School
During his visit to Manchester, the Commissioner also spoke about "Building a social market economy" at the Manchester Business School, where he earned his M.A. in Development Economics in 1993. He said: "to work smoothly, the Single Market needs strong competition and anti-fraud policy, but it also calls for a shared opportunity to reach comparable levels of economic development, prosperity and social cohesion" – the EU's Europe 2020 strategy seeks to turn this into reality. Moreover, the recent Commission’s proposal for cohesion policy instruments 2014-2020 aims to tackle disparities within and between the Member states.
When counteracting the present economic crisis, "I am convinced that confidence will only return if we do more for investment and growth, and improve the long-term growth potential of the EU economy, also by investing more in human resources", Mr Andor added.
Visit to ESF projects
Mr Andor also visited the ESF project "Back on Track", which provides education and mentoring to adults in Greater Manchester. He described the project as "a good example of how ESF is helping people reintegrating in society and in employment. Moreover, ESF is providing participants with support tailored to individual's needs, offering them a way to progress into education, future learning and job opportunities".