Fabian Demicoli

White Paper on pensions: Occupational pensions must remain attractive

 GRTU is fully in agreement with the European Commission on the need to work longer by creating a better balance between time spent in work and retirement, and the need for individuals to save more by developing complementary private retirement savings, however caution should be applied when revising the so-called Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) rules.

 

The proposals put forward by the European Commission's White Paper setting out an agenda for adequate, safe and sustainable pensions must avoid raising the cost of occupational pensions for employers and workers. Against a background of an ageing population and a difficult macroeconomic context, the roadmap outlines 20 measures to secure the financial sustainability and adequacy of pensions in the long run.

GRTU is concerned about the announced revision of the rules regulating and supervising IORP such as pension funds. By all means, the revision should not make these schemes more expensive and less attractive, while taking better into account the national IORP specificities. The focus should be on promoting appropriate incentives for employers and employees to invest in occupational pension schemes. Doing otherwise would discourage small businesses from offering supplementary pension schemes to their employees, making it increasingly difficult for them to attract the skilled workforce they need. The debate on the portability of pension rights should focus first and foremost on tax and fiscal obstacles.

The sustainability, adequacy and safety of pensions in Europe are clearly at risk due to an increasing old-age dependency ratio and pressure on public budgets. The White Paper is therefore a clear call on Member States to deliver structural reforms of pensions systems and of the labour market where necessary. While pension policy must remain the prerogative of Member States, the Commission's warning is more than reasonable at this stage.

We support the Commission's stance on the need for longer working lives to achieve a better balance between time spent in work and retirement. Raising the effective retirement age in line with longevity and avoiding early exits from the labour market is indispensable, as much as increasing the overall labour market participation. At the same time, individuals should be encouraged to save more. That is why the Commission's proposal to further develop complementary private retirement savings is an important step towards diffusing risks and securing future pension entitlements.

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