EUROPE - Ria Oomen-Ruitjen, MEP, has slammed the European Commission's Green Paper on pensions for neglecting small and medium-sized (SMEs).

She said any mention of SMEs was sorely missed from the document and pointed out that small businesses were "one of the main sources of employment in the EU".

Oomen-Ruitjen - who holds the central post of rapporteur in the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee - made the criticism in a draft version of a report that will kick off committee debates in a process due to reach an 'initiative report', due for clearance in plenary session some time in February.

The debates, which will take place in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee with input from other committees, will be a follow-up to the Green Paper.

In her report, Oomen-Ruitjen, a Dutch national and member of the centre-right EPP party, said "pensions are a primary responsibility of the member states", but conceded that the EU lacked a "set of common criteria that illuminate the various pension systems" and argued that there was therefore a "lack of transparent supervision applicable to all systems". 

She also supported the case for more people working for longer and called on EU member states to "consider linking the statutory retirement age to life expectancy".

On the topic of mobility, she claimed that second-pillar pensions needed to be re-arranged to ensure portability and called on the Commission to investigate how employers' right to participate in the second pillar could be facilitated.

She also expressed her dismay that the 2020 Strategy, which aims to promote economic growth, omitted attention to the pension dimensions, and said she had misgivings about the lack of attention in the Green Paper to gender issues - "particularly bearing in mind that, because of the disparities in careers, women have smaller pensions on average".