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Principle 15

Old age income and pensions

The needs of an ageing population should be better understood, and solutions found to ensure assistance for older people, adequate pensions, good health and social care and safety nets. Comprehensive social protection systems cannot be built through legislation alone. They need financial resources and a commitment from Member States to make the necessary funds available to move forward in implementing the EPSR. Within this context, the role of the EU is crucial to ensure that people reach the end of their professional careers in good health and with sufficient resources – guaranteed primarily by strong statutory pension systems – to enjoy a dignified retirement. Workers employed in arduous activities need particular rules within the broad sphere of pension schemes in order to ensure good health in retirement and adequate income at pension age.

In the EU Semester pensions are still treated as purely fiscal sustainability issues rather than social demands linked to demographic challenges. Coverage, quality, and access have suffered as a result of cuts to public expenditure, dismantling of collective risk-sharing and marketisation often prescribed by Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs).

The adequacy of social protection benefits must be ensured by statutory public and collective systems for all workers and self-employed. Fiscal objectives should be compatible with decent living conditions for elderly people. The Council Recommendation on Access to Social Protection should be supported and implemented. Progress should be monitored for workers and self-employed. A set of indicators should be introduced, within the framework of closer cooperation between Member States, to find alternatives to raising the retirement age and to make prolonged careers workable. Efforts should be made to create more and better jobs across all ages, to strengthen first pillar pensions, ensuring universal coverage and adequacy in all Member States, and to support European and national-level coordination for the development of occupational pensions based on collective agreements and as a voluntary supplement to a stronger public pensions system.

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. Implementation of the Recommendation on Access to Social Protection

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. Introduce an “adequacy” indicator that establishes Medium Term Budgetary Objectives for the Member States and monitoring quality of life of old-age people.
  2. Linking fiscal sustainability and adequacy of pensions with labour market performance, employment dependency ratio, quality of work and remuneration, fairness of contributory obligation between employers and workers, gender pay and pension gap.
  3. Monitoring evidence concerning demographic, migration and retirement trends for different categories of workers, including those performing arduous jobs.
  4. Anti-Poverty Action Programme as in Principle 11.