GERMANY – Government adviser Bert Ruerup has warned that German pensioners must be prepared for statutory pension benefits to fall even further.

In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Ruerup said that pensions benefits have been reduced by 40% since 1992 as a result of changes in pensions policy in Germany which have left the population in a state of uncertainty.

He added that Germans must prepare themselves to face further reductions. According to an article in Der Spiegel, the planned pensions taxation that would be implemented as a result of the proposals given by the Ruerup commission would see pension benefits sink further to below 50%.

Ruerup was commissioned by the German government to head a committee to propose pensions reforms. Among the proposals, Ruerup has said that he wants the Riester-Rente private pensions products to be made compulsory if they don’t take off within the next two years, and that the age of retirement should be increased to 67 from 65 after 2011.

The uncertainty and frequent changes in pensions policy in Germany have been the subject of much criticism over the past year. Further changes to pensions law are being frowned upon, as it will only further confuse the population as to where they should be saving, and what they will receive upon retirement.

While the state pension system and third pillar Riester-Rente systems are in flux, the second pillar is showing signs of stability, and occupational schemes are gradually attracting more members. However, until Germans have a good idea of what they can expect in terms of a state pension, it will be difficult to further develop supplementary pensions. Germans have relied on the over-generous state system for so long, that it is difficult to convince them that they must know address the pensions issue themselves.