Ministers tackle demographic challenges
By Sophie Petitjean | Monday 25 June 2012
The Employment and Social Policy Council (EPSCO) is committing to tackle the demographic challenges by strengthening the participation of all in the labour market and in society, as well as by improving pension adequacy. The ministers met, on 21 June, and endorsed the main messages of the 2012 report on pension adequacy (2010-2050), which warns against the risk of poverty for the elderly. Moreover, they adopted a series of conclusions calling on the European Commission and the member states to invest in education and training, gender equality and fighting social exclusion.
The Council approved the key messages of the 2012 report on pension adequacy (2010-2050), which was jointly prepared by the Social Protection Committee (SPC) and the Commission. In a series of conclusions, the ministers recognised that the pension reforms, which are currently leaning towards systems with set contributions and towards stepping up the importance of professional and personal pension schemes, are likely to be unfavourable to many women. That is, say the ministers, unless a greater equality between the genders can be achieved on the labour market and in private pension schemes. The ministers also stressed that there are various ways of improving pension adequacy, namely: 1. promoting an increase of the duration of the working life in better health conditions, through employment policies and relations with the social partners; and 2. increasing pension scheme contributions (for example by focusing more on complementary pension schemes, through professional and/or individual capitalisation private pension schemes. The main messages on pension adequacy complete the conclusions adopted by the Ecofin Council, on 15 May, on the viability of public finances in the light of the ageing of the population.
PARTICIPATION OF ALL
In a second series of conclusions, the ministers encourage active policies and innovative measures to increase active participation to society before and after retirement, and to promote independent living, in good health and with dignity. The Council thus suggests investing in education and training; developing gender equality policies; combating the intergenerational transmission of poverty and social exclusion; increasing the labour market participation of older persons; promoting equal opportunity measures supporting better conditions for families and child raising; developing non-discrimination policies; and promoting the effective use of available budget and financing instruments in order to ensure the greatest value for money.