[Brussels, 12 November 2010] In reaction to the European Commission’s Green Paper and to further develop a much needed Europe-wide debate on pensions, the European Youth Forum, AGE Platform Europe and the European Women’s Lobby believe that any reform should not end up being detrimental to people’s rights allowing all, despite of their age or gender, to benefit from adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems.
Given the increased impact of EU economic, fiscal and single-market legislation on Member States pension systems, stronger EU coordination on all pension schemes is needed in an integrated way to support Member States efforts to achieve adequate and sustainable pensions for all, today and in the future. Developments in recent years have proved that Member States economies are interdependent, and EU and peer supervision and coordination are needed to ensure no one rocks the boat.
While welcoming the debate on reforming pension systems as a timely one, the European Youth Forum, AGE and the European Women’s Lobby underline the necessity to evaluate the changes from the point of view of both current and future pensioners and workers and by taking into account the new patterns of lifestyles of people both in the labour market and in society at large, and especially those of women.
In order to invert the current common increasing distrust of people towards the sustainability, adequacy and safety of pension systems, it is essential to consider that pension systems are adapted to new social and demographic contexts, for example by enhancing the acquisition, preservation and portability of pension rights for mobile workers in the EU, and aim at equality between women and men.
“The recent crisis has put lots of doubts on the sustainability of pension systems, especially when they seem not to be able to include young people in the social security systems immediately upon their first contact with the labour market,” stresses Tine Radinja, President of the European Youth Forum. “We cannot allow that the current situation (delayed labour market access, gaps in contributions, long vesting periods, age participatory restrictions, longer years of schooling, etc.) puts any further at risk future generations’ right to an adequate pension!”, he continues.
“We hope that this public consultation will trigger national and EU debates on what is an adequate income in old age, how to ensure the long-term sustainability of our pension systems through more solidarity and fairness between and within generations, how to improve gender equality at all ages and how to address the social impact of the shift from statutory pay-as-you-go to funded schemes and from defined-benefit to defined-contributions pension plans,” says Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Director.
"Most reforms proposed or introduced recently will lead to greater risk of poverty of women in old age as nothing is done to address the discrimination that women suffer both in employment and retirement.” says Myria Vassiliadou, EWL Secretary General. “Any reform in this field must aim at equality between men and women and should be consistent with women’s lives and working patterns, as career breaks for care reasons, part time work, and precarious work. We can not accept gender pensions gaps!” she concludes.
Furthermore, the European Youth Forum, AGE and the European Women’s Lobby consider the very nature of pensions systems across Europe as an indispensable and rather central part of the European Social Model that needs to be strengthened. It is necessary, when developing the pensions systems in Europe but also when implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy, to build these actions on the principles of a strong European Social Model.
In conclusion, when recognising that pension reforms are needed in Europe, the European Youth Forum, AGE and the European Women’s Lobby believe that these should be based on a fair re-distribution of wealth between and within generations, should aim at equality between men and women, and should take on board the new labour market realities and the need for innovative forms of work-life balance.
Anne Mélard, AGE Platform Europe, +32 2 280 14 70, email@example.com.
Myria Vassiliadou, European Women’s Lobby, +32 478 13 63 52, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letizia Gambini, European Youth Forum, + 32 491 04 13 78, email@example.com.
Notes to the editor: