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Protecting our pensions

EU sets out plans to ensure people receive adequate pensions when they retire.

The European Commission stated that one out of four Europeans depends on their government pension as their main source of income.

With the number of pensioners set to grow faster than the working population, governments face a significant challenge in delivering fair, safe and sustainable pensions.

As the economic crisis adds to the financial pressure on national budgets, the EU is exploring how to work with governments to continue providing decent pensions in the future.

Following on from a consultation on European pensions systems and the Commission’s 2012 annual growth survey, a new policy paper on sustainable pensions seeks to better balance time spent working and time in retirement, ensures those who move to another country keep their pension rights and helps people save more for their future.

Key proposals include:

• adapting workplace and labour-market practices to improve opportunities for older workers

• encouraging employers and unions to develop private retirement schemes and urging governments to provide incentives including tax breaks

• better protecting supplementary pension schemes for those who have worked in more than one EU country

• linking retirement age with life expectancy, restricting early retirement and closing the pension gap between men and women.

Although national governments are largely responsible for pension systems, they are increasingly a matter of common concern. In line with the EU’s jobs and growth strategy, the Commission will continue to closely monitor and support pension reforms.

The EU can also bring added value with legislation, funding and policy coordination. This includes rules to tackle discrimination (gender and age based in particular), financial support to help older workers stay in the labour market, and country-specific recommendations to guide governments.

In 2011, the Commission provided recommendations to 16 EU countries, and an additional five signed up to make reforms.