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Time to defuse the Pensions time-bomb


16 Feb 2011


Social Europe & Jobs

Today the European Parliament in Strasbourg debated the European Commission's green paper on adequate, sustainable and safe European pensions systems.  While the Commission Strategy does not make any specific policy proposals, it seeks a view on possible future actions at a European level.

Marian Harkin, (Independent, IE), ALDE coordinator and shadow rapporteur on the Employment Committee, spoke of a pensions time-bomb. "Some people speak of the pensions time-bomb and given some of the figures that  I have seen which estimate the gap between what we currently set aside for pensions, both public and private, and the resources that will be needed to ensure that there are adequate pension provisions for the next 40 years -  that gap is huge.  We need to defuse this time-bomb.

"Member States themselves are responsible for making adequate pension provisions for their citizens but the economies of Member States are interdependent and therefore a coordination of pension policy is certainly necessary in the context of the current state of public finances, however we do not believe that it is appropriate for the EU to attempt to set adequate pension levels or to harmonize the retirement age."

Dirk Sterckx (Open VLD, Belgium), ALDE shadow rapporteur in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee outlined the role of the EU in overseeing that the right conditions prevail in Member States to guarantee future pensions , " It is  vital to guarantee the health of Member State finances. Healthy state finances underpin general state pensions (pillar one).  We also need to examine what pension strain there is on Member States in the long term. The EU has  a job to do in this respect.  My fear is that we are not covering all the risks in all the Member States."

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