Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 14/12/2018

Recent social policy developments in the FYR of Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain

Five new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on recent social policy developments in the FYR of Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

  • At the beginning of November 2018, the Government of the FYR Macedonia proposed a set of laws that focus on introducing a guaranteed minimum assistance, social pension and progressive taxation. The overall goal of this reform package is to reduce poverty and income disparities in the country. The proposed laws are expected to enter into force in early 2019.
  • The presentation of Malta’s budget for the coming year, when the government proposes new social policy measures, is a widely anticipated event. The budget for 2019 does not contain major social policy shifts, except for a more focused effort to address the acute rent problem. This short report summarises the main new elements of the budget as well as the most important measures.
  • A recent draft law in the Netherlands aims to reduce the gap between the position of employees with permanent contracts and the flexible workforce. However, according to the Council of State (the most important advisory organisation to the state) this gap will continue to exist under the new law, which does not offer enough social protection to people with a weak position on the labour market.
  • Although the Portuguese government has been facilitating access to early retirement for workers with long contribution records, some proposals currently under discussion point to increased restrictions for many workers. The debate on early retirement is expected to continue during the coming months in connection with themes such as demographic ageing, longer working lives, the sustainability of the pension system and the protection of vulnerable workers. In this context, it is crucial to clearly define the overall objectives and intended reach of early retirement within a sustainable but also fair and protective pension system.
  • In Spain, the Parliamentary Commission of the Toledo Pact has approved the Recommendation on the “Maintenance of the purchasing power and improvement of pensions” according to which pensions will be annually revaluated on the basis of the consumer price index. This recommendation has reopened the debate on the future sustainability of the public pension system in Spain.

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