Jocelyne Le Boulicaut, member of the Board of ENGS, on pensions in Europe:
Ensuring adequate pensions for all in the EUis a shared responsibility for society.
Neither banks, nor economists nor governments can prevent stock market instability and collapse, with its harmful effects on pensions funds and jobs. However, the crisis provide an opportunity to renew the efficiency and goals of pension systems and gives a clear warning against unconditional reliance on funded pension schemes. They cannot replace the security and fairness provided by state regulated pensions. Even with a better regulation of the stock market an dof pension funds investment strategies, there are not a panacea to guarantee adequate and secure old-age income for all including women and those with broken career histories.
Pension adequacy, a decent level of minimum income for all pensioners, safeguards for workers’ savings and pensioners’ provisions and possibilities to guarantee a good working life are all areas where substantial improvement is needed to restore confidence in national socila protection systems and the EU social model. Social protection is essential for social cohesion and adequate pensiosn are necessary for the EU population. Nobody must be left on the side of the road, no matter what working life one has had. It is a question of greater solidarity between and within generations.
We strongly recommend to involve the national older people’s organisations efficiently in the drafting, implementing andmonitoring of any government strategy or plan with regards to social protection and social inclusion, their involvement at all stage of the process should be facilitated as it is done for social partners.
We strongly recommend to empower and support the representative platforms at EU level which act on behalf of older people and their organisations. They must contribute as facilitators and be empowered to bring pressing problems to the attention of policy makers.
The mode of indexation of pensions must guarantee that pensioners as they age, keep up with economic progress in society and that the value of their pensions is not eroded for the older cohorts.There is a need for strong measures on how best protect purchasing power in ols age. It s particularly important to support incomes of seniors who are at high poverty risk and to reduce the income gap between these vulnerable groups and the working population.
The right to adequate minimum income should be recognised as fundamental ans necessary for everyone’s dignity and independence. It is also necessary to contribute on behalf of those who are unemployed, sick or caring for children and older dependants. Comprehnsive safety net mechanisms allowing older people to live in dgnity must be developed.
The state responsibility in the design and operation of national pension systems must be restored. It must be based on the solidarity principe, ensuring that everyone is protected in old age and can maintain a decent living standard.
We shoul put a ban on mandatory retirement ages and eradicate other unjustified obstacles to enable individuals to choose freely to phase their retirement, to work part time or to stop working when they wish.
Older workers have specific needs in time of crisis : access to continuing education and training which helps older workers remain active or employable, and able to re-enter the labour market quickly.
Survivor benefits will remain necessary for as long as the pension losses due to family care duties, or other pesonal constraints on employment, are not adequately compensated. It is vital to make people understand the importance of adequate individual pension rights, including those with justified career breaks.