EUROPE – Portable occupational pensions are a key part in the European Commission’s new social agenda plan unveiled today.

The aim is a European labour market that lets workers take pension and social security entitlements with them when they work in different member states.

“The new agenda focuses on providing jobs and equal opportunities for all and ensuring that the benefits of the EU's growth and jobs drive reach everyone in society,” the Commission said.

“By modernising labour markets and social protection systems, it will help people seize the opportunities created by international competition, technological advances and changing population patterns while protecting the most vulnerable in society.”

“The Commission will be issuing a proposal to enable workers to switch occupational pension schemes when they move within or between member states,” the Commission said.

“This will enable workers to move around Europe more easily.” There will also be a European Year of workers' mobility in 2006 to highlight this issue.

The Commission said European Union members’ attempts at pension reform were “promising”.

“All member states have introduced long-term reforms of their systems of social protection. The first results are promising as member states are adjusting their systems to make them financially sustainable and ensure that they provide an adequate income.”

Other features of the agenda include labour market reform as well as the launch a green paper on demography and the setting up a gender institute.

"This dynamic new agenda will help to provide what citizens most want: decent jobs and social justice,” said Vladimír Spidla, the commissioner for employment and social affairs.

“It maps the route for reforming labour markets in order to make work a real option for everyone. At the same time, it provides pathways for modernising welfare systems and combating poverty."