Germany: Riester could become compulsory

GERMANY – A top advisor to the German government on welfare reform has said he wants the Riester-Rente private pensions products to be made compulsory if they don’t take off within the next two years.

Bert Ruerup was speaking in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag.

The take-up of private pensions has been much slower than anticipated, but social security minister Ulla Schmidt is still confident that more people will sign up to the new Riester-Rente. She recently admitted, however, that take-up must be increased and that she would be examining ways to simplify and boost the products’ take-up.

The welfare reform commission that Ruerup heads has also proposed a gradual rise in the age of retirement to 67 from 65 after 2011. Schmidt has backed the proposals, which she anticipates as taking effect before 2035, but German citizens are furious with the plan. According to a survey conducted the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, 86% of those surveyed were against raising the age of retirement.

Increases in the rate of contribution are also on the cards, with the first increase forecast for next year – to 19.8% from 19.5%.

Employers and unions have expressed their concern, but Schmidt is reported as saying “it has nothing to do with the unions”.

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