Germany lukewarm on pension reform proposals

GERMANY – German social security minister Ulla Schmidt says the Ruerup Commission’s proposals on pension reform must not be allowed to upset the “social balance”.

Most of the Ruerup Commission’s 26 members have backed proposals for a gradual rise in the pensionable age to 67 from 65 from 2011. The welfare reform commission is headed by academic Bert Ruerup.

And most commission members were agreed that the rate of annual increases in pension payments needed to be slowed down – to reduce the pressure in the system and the need for higher contributions.

But the government gave a cautious welcome to the commission’s report. “I will ensure that the social balance remains protected,” said Schmidt. She said the focus is on companies and that there must be enough jobs available for those working longer. Companies must change their “ageist” policies, she added.

A report by the European Commission earlier this year said it was important for the social partners in Germany to develop occupational pension schemes that are accessible to all.

The Riester personal pension reforms have not been an unqualified success, with observers variously blaming the poor state of the economy and the lack of government support for the poor take-up of Riester-Renter products.

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