A multi-stakeholder pensions forum at the EU level is urgently needed, notwithstanding the heterogeneity of pension systems in the bloc, PensionsEurope has said in its response to the European Commission’s consultation on its Green Paper on Ageing.

The pension fund association also revealed it was planning to join forces with other European bodies to organise a European Retirement Week later this year.

This was to contribute to the objective of the EU playing a much larger role in improving people’s awareness of pension challenges and improving financial literacy, it said.

Commenting broadly on the Green Paper, PensionsEurope said it was “a good starting point to launch a debate on the main impacts of the demographic transformations in Europe”.

However, it said the Green Paper “should reflect more on the role that workplace pensions can play to provide people with additional retirement income, keep pension systems sustainable in the long-term, and contribute to economic growth in Europe”.

“The Green Paper, the debate that will follow, and the measures that eventually will be considered by the European Commission should include policies and initiatives aimed at facilitating and encouraging participation in workplace pension schemes,” it said.

“Workplace pensions are essential for the adequacy and sustainability of our pension systems.”

It said the European Commission should discuss and decide which actions are needed to further support the development of multi-pillar pension systems.

It noted that the Commission’s action plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights – released last month – was silent on the principle of old-age income and pensions, “and we would therefore expect that the Commission will consider actions on pensions under the discussions on the Green Paper on Ageing”.

The suggestion of an EU-level multi-stakeholder forum on pensions is one that was made by the High-Level Group of Experts on pensions that reported to the Commission last year. Matti Leppälä, who is secretary general of PensionsEurope, was one of the members of the expert group.

There is a precedent for an EU-level body such as that called for by PensionsEurope, but it – the Pensions Forum – is no longer in operation. PensionsEurope indicated the Occupational Pension Stakeholder Group at EIOPA did not fit the bill, as EIOPA is not a policymaker and its remit only covers supplementary pensions.

The pension fund association indicated that it is planning to hold the European Retirement Week in the week of 29 November 2021 as “an effective way to help shed light on Europe’s retirement challenges”.

“The European Retirement Week would not only serve the objective of raising awareness across Europe of the pension challenge but also as a platform for stakeholders and policymakers, both at national and EU level, to trigger discussions and exchange best practices,” it said.

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