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European Parliament endorses social/pensions link

EUROPE – The European Parliament is urging the Swedish presidency to put the pensions debate high on the agenda of the forthcoming European Council meeting in Gothenburg and link the debate on the costs of ageing and future social protection with the directive concerning financial markets access and cross border pensions and taxation.

In a resolution yesterday (May 17) on a report by Spanish MEP Alejandro Cercas Alonso concerning last year’s Commission communication: ‘The Future Evolution of Social Protection from a Long-Term Point of View: Safe and Sustainable Pensions’, the Parliament gave its clearest signal yet that it wished to see pensions reform pulled into a wider package of social and economic harmonisation within the European Union.

Endorsing the Cercas Alonso report, the Parliament called for a co-ordination strategy on pensions to be developed on into the Belgian European presidency and said the Commission should draft further guidelines on social protection including pensions.

This it said would include successful growth strategies and active employment policies to reduce pressure on public finances and limit the need for higher contributions and taxes.
“ To date much of this reform has been put off in member states, “ the parliament notes, adding that it considers that: “ the strategy of mutual reinforcement of economic and social policies as laid down by the Lisbon European Council should lead to convergence of macro-economic, employment and social protection policies at the European level.”

Expanding the pensions debate, the parliament added that reform of pensions systems should not only meet demographic but also “above all” be based on social justice and the fight against poverty and insecurity.
This it said would include attempts to increase employment rates and discrimination in labour markets against the elderly and women in particular.

On a micro-level, the Parliament suggests that time off for parental leave should be eligible for pension rights and that such consideration should also be applied to carers, part-time workers and the self employed.

The Parliament also commended member states to sort out their tax and spend policies in order to make sure the funding of their pay-as-you-go (PAYG) aspirations was realistic.


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