AUSTRIA - The Austrian first pillar is safe even for people of the younger generation, according to Austrian social minister Rudolf Hundstorfer.

"I can safely say to the 20 year olds that they will get a pension," he said during a question and answer session on Austrian TV.

Hundstorfer said an increase of the statutory pension age from 65 to 67 was "inconceivable and unnecessary" at the moment.

For him, the major challenge is to get the actual retirement age to 65 and to lower the number of invalidity pensions by ensuring people are staying healthy for longer.

Another initiative will be aimed at increasing the quota of older employees in companies, as currently 39% of men and 30% of women go from unemployment straight to retirement.

Other figures show that Viennese civil servants are retiring at 57 on average - mainly because they are being laid off by the local government.

Christoph Leitl, head of the Austrian chamber of commerce, welcomed the proposals and said there had to be incentives for working longer.

"At the moment, people in Austria who are working longer are worse off - this is a practice we have to stop," he said.

The debate on the Austrian pension system reached another peak last week when the 34-member pension reform commission, made up of politicians and social partners, failed to agree on whether to adjust first-pillar pensions.

Hundstorfer wants to keep the commission's basic set up, but reduce its size to make decisions easier.

The Austrian pension fund association (FVPK) called for the inclusion of the second and third pillar in the negotiations of the pension commission.

FVPK-head Andreas Zakostelsky called for an "end to compartmentalised thinking" when it comes to pensions and named the EU Green Paper as a good example of an analysis based on all three pillars.