EU Parliament head shifts pensions debate

BELGIUM - The focus of the debate about ageing, pensions and demographics needed to be shifted, said Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament.

“We should not always be talking about pension timebombs and disastrous exponential healthcare costs," Cox said.

The increase in life expectancy along with better health prospects is “an achievement worth celebrating and not to be oppressed by the fiscal challenges,” he told a conference on global ageing in Brussels.

“You can't have deliberate attitude changes in society by constantly harping on to people about the benefits of longevity and good health and say that these are a burden on the society that has achieved them.”

The terms of reference of the debate needed some balancing out in his view. Now is the time to go to war on shifting European leaders from rhetoric to delivering reform, he said. “The gap between the two is a large one.”

“We must emphasise the need for growth in Europe. If we don’t go for growth the political adjustment mechanisms inter-generationally will become impossible to operate in terms of scale of the cost.” Growth was one factor that could help ease adjustments.

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