The European Commission has on July 7, 2010 launched a Europe-wide public debate on how to ensure adequate, sustainable and safe pensions and how the EU can best support the national efforts.
Ageing populations in all Member States have put existing retirement systems under massive strain and the financial and economic crisis has only increased this pressure. The consultation document, a Green paper, poses a series of questions inviting all interested parties to contribute views, opinions and ideas on confronting the pension challenge - one of the biggest facing Europe and most parts of the world today – and how the EU can contribute to the solutions.
Presenting the consultation paper, and with the full backing of Commissioners Olli Rehn (Economic and Monetary affairs) and Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said:
"The number of retired people in Europe compared to those financing their pensions is forecast to double by 2060 - the current situation is simply not sustainable. In addressing this challenge the balance between time spent in work and in retirement needs to be looked at carefully.”
The Green Paper reviews the European pension framework in a holistic and integrated manner, benefiting from synergies across economic and social policy and financial market regulation which is why so many different topics are covered, such as: longer working lives, the internal market for pensions, mobility of pensions across the EU, gaps in EU regulation, the future solvency regime for pension funds, the risk of employer insolvency, informed decision-making and governance at EU level.
In particular, it aims to address the following issues:
- Ensuring adequate incomes in retirement and making sure pension systems are sustainable in the long term
- Achieving the right balance between work and retirement and facilitating a longer active life
- Removing obstacles to people who work in different EU countries and to the internal market for retirement products
- Making pensions safer in the wake of the recent economic crisis, both now and in the longer term
- Making sure pensions are more transparent so that people can take informed decisions about their own retirement income
The consultation is a joint initiative from Commissioners Andor, Barnier (Internal market and services) and Rehn (Economic and monetary affairs), covering economic and social policies as well as financial market regulation. It does not make specific policy proposals but seeks views on possible future actions at European level.
The consultation period will run for four months (ending 15 November 2010) during which anyone with an interest in the subject can submit their views via a dedicated website. The European Commission will then analyse all responses and consider the best course for future actions to address these issues at EU level.