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  Pension reforms in Europe

  18 Debates

58.2 percent of the voters in a referendum on Sunday said yes to introducing a 13th monthly pension payment for all pensioners. The measure will see old-age and survivors' insurance (OASI) pensions increase by 8.3 percent. The OASI is the first pillar of old-age provision in Switzerland, a kind of basic pension for all, currently totalling a maximum of CHF 2,450 or just under 2,550 euros. A similar initiative failed just a few years ago.

France's President Macron has signed the controversial pension reform into law - just hours after the French Constitutional Council approved its key points. However, the very points that would have been advantageous for workers were deleted from the law for formal reasons. Macron defended his stance in a televised speech on Monday, saying that he was giving himself 100 days - until Bastille Day - to pacify the country.

In France, the strikes and protests against the controversial pension reform continue. In a TV interview French President Emmanuel Macron justified his decision to bypass parliament and push the reform through saying it was "a necessity for the country" for which he was prepared to make himself unpopular. Europe's press analyses the reasons for the protests and potential consequences.

After months of negotiations, the Spanish government has finalised its plans for a pension reform aimed at cushioning the impact of the wave of baby boomers who are set to retire. State subsidies are to be raised and offset by increased contributions. The draft reform has yet to be negotiated with with employers and trade unions. Can this reform plug holes in the pension funds?

In France, the string of nationwide strikes and demonstrations against the government's pension reform plans continues. According to the authorities, 1.3 million people took to the streets across the country on Tuesday. Long-distance and local trains were cancelled, teachers staged walkouts and refineries were blocked. What does this fierce resistance mean?

Despite mass protests, France's government is sticking to its goal of overhauling the pension system. The changes are indispensable for achieving a financially balanced system, Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt said on Monday. A key measure of the reform is raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 and the contribution period to 43 years. Europe's commentators voice scepticism.

After many delays and repeated announcements the French government is now determined to tackle pension reform. According to plans presented by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, the retirement age is to be raised gradually from 62 to 64 by 2032. The trade unions have announced large-scale protests.

Following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, Switzerland must reform its legislation on widow's pensions. Widows currently receive a lifelong survivor's pension under Swiss law. Widowers, on the other hand, are no longer entitled to receive the pension once their youngest child reaches adulthood. The ruling came after a Swiss widower filed a complaint against the legislation. Should men now get more money? Or women less?

After inconclusive negotiations in the National Assembly, the French government now wants to push though its controversial pension reform by decree. Commentators discuss whether Emmanuel Macron is undermining democratic principles by resorting to this constitutional instrument.

The parliament in Tallinn is expected to approve a pension reform today, Wednesday: The so-called second pillar, the private pension back-up fund, is to be voluntary in future. Until now all employees had to pay two percent of their salary into savings accounts, with the state adding another four percent. Under the reform the money on these accounts can now be withdrawn. Estonia's press is highly critical.

Hundreds of thousands of people once again gathered across France on Thursday to protest the planned pension reform - the fourth mass protest in five weeks of permanent strikes. Local and long-distance transport was disrupted and lawyers, teachers and postal employees also stopped their work. Europe's press discusses how much longer Macron can resist the pressure from the streets.

The dispute over the planned pension reform in France is escalating despite further concessions from the government. In the wake of massive protests Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented a watered-down version of the controversial plans, but the strikes that started two weeks ago continue unabated. Commentators point to the lacking democratic legitimation of the negotiating partners.

The government in The Hague launched an initiative for reviving the negotiations on a pension reform, which have already gone on for eight years. The move came after pension funds threatened with cutbacks because they are running out of reserves. Commentators see the Netherlands' Polder model in which employers, trade unions and government representatives seek a consensus together as having reached its limits.

On Thursday Italy's government approved the implementation of two central election promises: the citizens' income, a scheme that could benefit millions of people. And a pension reform that could lower the age of retirement for around 350,000 Italians. The Italian press is sceptical.

People are living longer and having fewer children - in almost all European countries this trend is putting pension funds under pressure. Governments and societies are having to deal with the fact that ever fewer young people are financing ever more older people. Commentators in different countries propose different approaches to the problem.

Croatia's Labour Minister Marko Pavić has proposed bringing the raise in the retirement age forward to 2031. Originally the planned increase from from 65 to 67 years of age was not to take place until 2038. Bringing the retirement age up to 67 has been stipulated by the European Commission. For some journalists the initiative is timely, but others worry about the fate of future pensioners.

The protest against the planned pension reform in Russia shows no sign of abating. Thousands of people demonstrated in several cities on the weekend despite a ban. The jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny had called for marches to be held on Saturday, when regional elections were set to take place. Is a storm brewing in Russia?

In the wake of protests Russian President Vladimir Putin has watered down his pension reform plans. In a televised speech he said that the retirement age for women would be raised by five rather than eight years, to age 60. He stressed, however, that the reform remained necessary due to "serious demographic problems". Is this clever back-pedalling or a sign of weakness?