ITALY - The European Commission (EC) has urged the Italian government to increase the minimum retirement age for women in a bid to speed up the reform of the country’s retirement laws.

This week, EC asked the Italian government to raise the minimum retirement age of women employed in the public sector from 60 to 65 by 2012.

This requirement followed the application of a ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, issued in 2008, which concerned equal pay rights for both sexes.

Welfare minister Maurizio Sacconi said the sentence would not affect women working in private sector who have a less secure stream of income over their working life.

The Italian government had recently approved a gradual increase in the minimum retirement age for women from 60 to 65, which would have been completed by 2018, but this was insufficient in the eyes of the EC.

Viviane Reding, vice-president of the EC, recently met with Sacconi and said there was “no space for discussion” on how the Italian government complied with the sentence.

Sacconi told Italian newspapers the decision was up to Italy’s executive but added that the sentence could be integrated in the 2011-12 budget law.

He said Inpdap, Italy’s public pension institute, calculated the increase in the minimum retirement age for public-sector employees would affect more than 30,000 women.

The minister said government would make a decision on how to comply with the EC’s request at a meeting of the Council of Ministers scheduled for this week.

The government faces strong opposition from trade unions, while it has the support of Confindustria, the association of Italian employers.