EUROPE - Denmark has Europe's healthiest pension system, followed by Estonia and Ireland, according to Aon Consulting's European Pensions Barometer.

Under the most pressure to sustain retirement benefits come Greece, Slovenia and Belgium.

For the ranking Aon looked at demographic challenges, state provision, affordability and company schemes in 25 European member states.

In the company pension ranking, the Netherlands came first, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Ireland.

Paul McGlone, head of propositions for financial risk consulting at Aon, explained to IPE that the good ranking of Estonia and Latvia was mainly due to demographics: "These two countries have the lowest life expectancy in Europe but the people work for relatively long." That partly explains why in the affordability ranking these two countries came out top.

"If, however, they are moving towards Western standards to see their life expectancy improving, they will be facing similar problems to many Western countries," McGlone said.

In the Barometer countries with low state pensions generally rank higher overall than countries like Luxembourg, Italy or Greece which came out top in the ranking on state pension.

McGlone admitted that there was some correlation although he stressed that it was not quite that simple. However, he claimed that currently there are no affordable models for high state pension provision. 

The ten European countries with least pressure on their pension systems are:

Denmark    1
Estonia        2
Ireland     3
Latvia        4
Netherlands    5
UK        6
Sweden    7
Spain        8
Lithuania    9
Czech Rep.    10