EUROPE – The “social and financial sustainability” of pension schemes is one of the stated priorities of the Netherlands’ tenure of the European Union presidency.

“Equally important priorities include modernising the social policy agenda, the social and financial sustainability of pension schemes, and working hours,” the Dutch government says in its statement of priorities for the presidency of the EU Council, which began this month.

“Based on the Joint Pension Report of 2003, work will advance on the necessary reform of national pension systems,” it said.

“All European pension systems face the same challenge, namely, how to ensure sustainability in the long term, given the ageing of the population.

“In this context, attention will focus primarily on social protection systems, prolonging the working life of the population and the development of second pillar pension systems.”

It said that “as part of the groundwork” for the next round of national action plans, the presidency will push for the adoption in the autumn of “agreements on objectives, procedures and indicators” in the pensions field.

The presidency would also focus on maintaining and reinforcing “a high-quality health care system in an ageing society, in other words, a system that is universal, accessible and affordable”.

The top priority of the presidency would be making a success of the enlargement of the EU. Other priorities include strengthening the European economy and cutting red tape.

And it said it would “actively pursue” the implementation of the Action Plan on Corporate Governance as well as focus on corporate social responsibility.