EUROPE - The European Commission has announced that, after several delays, it will unveil its much-anticipated White Paper on pensions in mid-February.

In a statement published on its website, the Commission said it would publish the White Paper on 14 February.

The report will focus on the key issues identified in the consultation process launched in July 2010 with the Green Paper entitled 'Towards adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems".

The Commission said: "While recognising that the primary responsibility for pension system[s] rests with the member states and the social partners, the White Paper presents a number of interlinked policy initiatives at the European level through which the EU can support national policy makers.

"This covers in particular member states' efforts to address pensions and retirement reform needs as identified in the Commission's 2011 country-specific recommendations to more than half of the member states and as part of the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth."

The pensions industry has been expecting the publication of the White Paper for several months as the release of the report has been postponed several times.

A draft version of the White Paper was leaked at the European Pension Congress in Frankfurt in November.

In the draft version, the Commission insisted on the need to implement wide-ranging pension reforms by providing financial support to member states and social partners wishing to receive expertise from other countries or international organisations.

In addition, it called for the abolition of mandatory retirement ages to extend the working life of employees, arguing that the ratio of people of working age (15-64 years old) to people aged 65 years was projected to drop from 4-1 to 2-1 in 50 years' time.

The Commission also argued that the current financial crisis had demonstrated the need to improve the cost-effectiveness and safety of funded pension schemes and other vehicles for complementary retirement savings.