EUROPE – Total contributions to pension funds in European Union member states rose 62% to 84 billion euros over the 1997-2000 period, says the EU’s statistics office.

“The volume of total contributions to autonomous pension funds for EU member states for which data are available reached 84 billion euros in 2000, growing by 62% over the period 1997-2000,” said Eurostat in a statement.

“The total expenditure of these funds in the EU increased by 47% over the period,” it added.

Spain recorded the highest growth in the number of pension fund members, Eurostat said. Spain grew by 84%, Austria by 60% and Italy by 58%. Finland and Denmark saw declines, the former by 22% and the latter by 10%.

There was a disparity in the total volume of contributions across the bloc, with Spain, Sweden and Italy showing exceptional growth, while Denmark, Belgium and Finland recorded declines.

Contributions in Spain grew by 308%, as well as Sweden (245%) and Italy (117%). They fell in Finland (down 54%), Denmark (-29%) and Belgium (-12%). Austrian contributions fell 4%.

The report said the total amount of investments rose by around 20% between 1997 and 2000, with Austria leading the way with a 160% increase. The highest level of investment in absolute terms was in the UK, with 1.028 billion euros and the Netherlands (454 billion euros).