GERMANY - A majority of MPs in the parliament for the state of Hessen have reportedly rejected a plan under which they would be forced to save for retirement instead of automatically receiving a state pension.

Under the plan, unveiled by the parliament's factions last September, the MPs would no longer get a state pension but instead a bonus to their base salary of €6,600 per month. The bonus, equal to €1,500 per month, was to be used exclusively for retirement provisioning.

When the plan was unveiled, the parliament's speaker Norbert Kartmann said: "We have to get away from a state pension (for the MPs) financed with tax money and instead have them set aside their own money for retirement."
The CDU governs Hessen with an absolute majority in the parliament. Other parties with seats in the chamber are the Social Democrats, the liberal Free Democrats and the Green party.

But according to Hessian public radio (hr), all but the Greens have rejected the plan in favour of retaining their right to a state pension, albeit with reduced benefits and a hike in the retirement age.

Citing an internal paper, hr said pension benefits for MPs would be trimmed. For example, the maximum benefit is to fall to 67% of previous salary from 71.75% now. MPs will only qualify for that benefit after 25 years of service instead of 22.

Finally, the retirement age for MPs would be raised to 60 from 55 currently, hr said.

However, Kartmann downplayed the hr report, stressing that no decisions had been made regarding changes to pension provisioning for Hessian MPs. "Our aim is to achieve a consensus among all parties in the parliament. We will continue our work until that consensus is achieved," the CDU MP said in a statement.

For their part, the Greens said they are sticking to the plan drawn up last September. "We want to upheld the principle of providing for one's own retirement instead of having the state do so," said Tarek Al-Wazir, head of the Greens' faction in the Hessian parliament.

The news regarding the state pension for Hessian MPs comes just a week after a Frankfurt court ruled that ex-Bundesbank president Ernst Welteke may have his monthly pension of €8,000 raised by €400.

The court's ruling marks a partial defeat for Welteke, who had sued the Bundesbank to have his monthly pension raised by €4,700. In his lawsuit, Welteke argued that his service as a Hessian MP, and not just at the Bundesbank, had to be counted toward his benefits.