SPAIN - Spain's congress has approved the government's proposed pension reform, which will now be discussed in the senate before its possible introduction in 2012. 

After several months of debate since the bill's introduction in January, the pensions reform was approved yesterday by the Spain's Chamber of Deputies.  

Measures adopted included pushing back the legal retirement age to 67 years instead of the current 65 years.

One of the main amendments also includes the calculation for pension benefits of all paid training done by Spanish workers over a period of two years.

The news follow the agreement made last week by the Congress Working Committee to introduce new conditions to soften the pension reform plan.

The agreement also included the revision of the legal retirement age for workers with disabilities. People with a total impairment of more than 45% will be allowed to take their retirement at 56, instead of the current 58.

The law on pensions will now be discussed at the senate. If the measures are adopted, the law will be introduced as soon as 2012.

In a statement published last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) welcomed Spain's efforts to face its economic problems but said the country would need to implement stronger reforms in the labour market and the pension system to rebalance its economy.

"Financial conditions could deteriorate further, reflecting rising concerns about sovereign risks in the euro area," the IMF said.

"This could put additional pressure on sovereign and bank funding costs for Spain, which in turn could feed back to the real economy."