Ladies and gentlemen,
This is the third time the Commission and the Social Protection Committee have joined forces to deliver the Pension Adequacy Report.
And it is the second time, I have had the honour as Commissioner to read the report.
The last edition, in 2015, helped to foster key reforms. Reforms across the Union to improve pension adequacy.
I am certain that this new edition will also encourage change.
So, let me start by thanking all of you who have contributed to its making. In particular the members of the Social Protection Committee and the European Social Policy Network, and of course my Commission colleagues Your input has been essential to the quality and clarity of messages that come out of this report.
Old age is a sensitive topic. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like talking about my age.
I don’t feel so old. But there was a time when someone my age could already be enjoying retirement. Enjoying it for several years in fact.
More and more, early retirement will become thing of the past. To keep our pension systems sustainable, we will have to work longer.
We already know the facts.
Today, three working people support one pensioner. In 2070 the ratio will be two on one. Two people at work will support one person staying at home.
We are all growing older. On average, life expectancy increases by three months every year. And because we live longer, we’ll spend more time in retirement. By 2060, the time we spend in retirement will be more than half of that spent in employment.
I hardly need to repeat these facts here.
In Europe, you are the experts on pensions. From Member States. The Social Partners. From our stakeholders and from universities. And of course, my colleagues from the European Commission.
The best knowledge and analysis we can get in Europe, is gathered here in this room.
If anyone needs some advice on pensions, then this is the place to be.
As your report shows, the political, social and economic importance of pensions will only increase. Pensions are the main source of income to around one in four Europeans.
Your report makes it clear, that it’s not just long life that puts our pension systems under pressure. It is also the world of work that is changing. Today, more than 40% of working people in Europe are in self-employment or non-standard employment. And people will switch jobs and careers, often, during their lives.
A patchwork of jobs also means a patchwork of pension contributions. Especially for young people. Career gaps can cause holes in pension coverage.
That’s bad for people, who will have low pensions. It also undermines our pension systems.
We want our young people also to have adequate pensions.
We want our pension systems to remain sustainable.
I am very grateful that your report points out another important fact. The gender gaps in pay and pensions remain staggeringly large. Because of differences in in earnings, career length and work intensity, women's pensions are 37 per cent lower than men's.
And this is 2018, not 1918!
This means that women are more likely to receive inadequate pensions. That’ s not just unfair. It’s completely unsustainable, at a time when we need all hands on deck! When we need everyone, to contribute to our economy and our pension systems, to keep them afloat.
We need to keep our pensions both adequate and sustainable. We cannot separate these two issues. This Pension Adequacy Report perfectly complements the Aging Report of the Commission and the Economic Policy Committee.
We are on the right path. Member States are carrying out reforms. Reforms that often directly follow the guidance in our country-specific recommendations. Reforms, that are very often inspired by your research and analysis.
In their reforms, Member States increasingly link sustainability gains with measures to safeguard pension adequacy.
Member States are taking measures to prolong working lives, limit early retirement, and link pensions to life expectancy.
These efforts are bringing results: We have 11.4 million more older workers in employment than in the past decade.
But we need to do more when it comes to pension reform .
We need to promote active ageing. So that people who live longer, can also physically and mentally work longer.
We need to look at supplementary pensions. These are becoming more important. Together, we have to figure out how to make them a cost-effective source of retirement income. That’s why the Commission has set up a high-level group on supplementary pensions.
But above all, we have to realise that this is no longer a debate just about pensions. This is also about the future of work, intergenerational fairness, and equal treatment of men and women.
To tackle all of these issues we launched the European Pillar of Social Rights,
The Pillar is a framework of 20 rights and principles, grouped around three main goals.
1. Equal opportunities for education and training and access to the labour market.
2. Fair working conditions.
3. Access to social protection for all.
The rights in the Pillar act as a compass for upwards convergence to help us get our people and our rulebook ready for new world of work.
The Pillar pioneers a new, broader approach to pension adequacy and sustainability.
Firstly, it states that both workers and the self-employed have the right to an adequate pension.
Secondly, gender equality. Men and women should have equal opportunities to acquire pension rights.
Finally, the Pillar stresses that everyone has the right to resources that ensure living in dignity.
We are now turning rights into realities, and policies into principles.
We launched a proposal for a Recommendation to make sure that all workers in all Member States – employed or self-employed – will have access to social protection. In exchange for contributions, everyone should have access to unemployment, invalidity and sickness benefits – and to old age pensions. And they will be able to accumulate and transfer rights between jobs and jobs status.
This proposal will help to make sure that our young people, the digital and flexible workers of today, have healthy pensions tomorrow.
We also launched a proposal on Work Life Balance. This will help men and women to share caring responsibilities more equally. Which will improve equal opportunities for women to help them stay and progress on the labour market. Because let’s face it: more than men, women in old age face poverty and exclusion. They face poverty, because they have smaller pensions. And they have smaller pensions, because they paid smaller contributions. And they paid smaller contributions, because of lower earnings. Or because women took care of the children, and worked fewer hours or stopped working completely.
We need to take action. Not only because it’s fair that women and people in the new world of work have adequate pensions. But if we want everyone to have adequate pensions then we need everyone to contribute.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you for your report. We are living in an older Europe, a digital Europe, and a Europe that can become still fairer.
We need to upgrade our twentieth century pension systems, to meet the 21st century reality.
Your report, will help us, to do so.
I hope that the findings of the Pension Adequacy Report will prove a valuable source of reference to support national debates and strengthen the reform efforts.