EUROPE - The European Commission has confirmed in a new draft version of its White Paper on Pensions that it will encourage member states to implement later retirement ages, as well as promote complementary private retirement savings. The final version of the report is expected tomorrow.

In a new draft version of the White Paper on Pensions obtained by IPE, which follows July 2010's Green Paper, the Commission said it would set out an agenda for making pensions "adequate and sustainable" in the long term.

It also reiterated its intention to offer financial support to member states and social partners wishing to receive expertise from other countries or international organisations for the implementation of pension reforms and new retirement policies through its PROGRESS programme and the future Programme for Social Change and Innovation, which facilitate policy sharing and development.

In a previous leaked draft version seen by IPE in November last year, the Commission said it would encourage member states to implement wide-ranging pension reforms by providing financial support for any initiatives.

Among the measures proposed in the new draft version, the Commission says it would ask the social protection committee (SPC) and the advisory committee on equal opportunities between women and men to identify and recommend best practice in reducing the gender gap in pensions - including promotion of equal pay, minimum pension entitlements, care credits as well as pension rights splitting at divorce.

One person acquainted with the White Paper noted: "If a country allows women to retire at age 60 and men to retire at age 65, the state adds at least 20% to its public pension bill."

Building on its proposal for the European social fund (ESF) in the 2014-2020 programming period, the Commission said it would also encourage member states to make use of the ESF to support active and healthy ageing, including reconciliation of work and family life, and would monitor whether programmes backed by the fund effectively supported the reform needs identified by the White Paper.

Moving to cross-border activity, the Commission said it would promote the development of pension tracking services allowing people to keep track of their pension entitlements acquired in different jobs.

The source said the delay in the White Paper's publication was mainly due to the changes highlighted by member states following the Green Paper consultation period.