The European Social Partners and AGE Platform Europe were in the ‘privileged’ position of being able to submit comments as part of the Adequacy Report.
The Business Europe confederation of employers praised the emphasis that the report places on supplementary pensions. However, it criticised the report’s concerns that the labour market may not be able to absorb the expected extra labour supply of older workers.
The Confederation believes that the best way to reduce the gender pension gap is to increase the number of women in the workforce. It is up to the Member States to decide how, and for which groups of workers, coverage should be provided. The same applies to the distinction between ‘employee’ and ‘self-employed’. The benefits of using different types of contracts must be maintained, especially with regard to accessing pension entitlements. This does not necessarily have to be designed in exactly the same way as compulsory insurance of employees in statutory pension schemes. On the contrary, it should be possible for the self-employed to choose the scheme and provider best suited to their needs.
The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UAPME) was even clearer in its comments. It is a legitimate concern of the self-employed that they receive a pension proportionate to their contributions; this could be problematic in the case of compulsory membership in statutory schemes.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) praised the report as a counterbalance to the European Commission’s upcoming Ageing Report, which will focus on fiscal sustainability. Although the role of second pillar pensions is also seen as positive, in practice they only have a limited role in ensuring pension adequacy; this applies even more to the third pillar. Voluntary schemes are only accessible to a very small part of the population.
Talk that public pension systems will no longer be able to maintain pension adequacy in the future is not constructive. It is more about maintaining the fiscal sustainability of public systems and keeping an eye on economic dependency ratios rather than demographic ones; for example, by improving employment opportunities for over 55s.
AGE Platform Europe (AGE) represents the interests of older people (55+) in Europe. In its comments, AGE highlighted an issue that is rather neglected in both current pension forms and the latest Adequacy Report. If the retirement age is automatically adjusted to increased life expectancy, as is the case in some Member States, it is important to link this to the healthy life expectancy (HLY) and not just life expectancy per se. Not only does HLY not increase as quickly as life expectancy, in some countries it is even declining.