World What the European Union says about pensions

What the European Union says about pensions


Unlike customs, monetary or commercial matters, social issues are not part of the so-called skills "Exclusive" of the European Union. On the pensions issue, it is therefore up to each State to set up its system, as long as it remains within the budgetary nails. So much for the general rule.

Few European texts deal with the subject in depth. Is there just a "Base of social rights" non-binding, proclaimed on November 17, 2017 by the Commission and signed by the member states.

In the name of public debt

The text, in article 15, provides: “Retired salaried or self-employed workers are entitled to a retirement pension proportional to their contributions and guaranteeing them an adequate income. Women and men must have the same opportunities to acquire pension rights. All elderly people have the right to resources allowing them to live in dignity ”.

Apart from these main principles, the EU confines itself, above all, to " recommendations To France. Its motivations are above all budgetary, in the name of the European Stability Pact. The European executive has a power of sanction in the event of serious slippage, unlike the social aspect on which it has no leverage.

In a working document dated February 27, 2019, the European Commission considered that "The planned reform of the pension and health systems could help to reduce public debt in the medium term and thereby reduce the risks to its sustainability ”.

Praise of the reform

The reform sought by Emmanuel Macron is among the points of progress highlighted by the Council of the EU. On July 2, 2019, the Ecofin Council which brings together the European Ministers of Economy and Finance supported the main lines of the reform under negotiation, regretting that "More than 40 pension plans coexist in France". In their joint declaration, the council considers that the project of the presidential majority "Should gradually standardize the rules of these plans, with a view to simplifying the operation of the pension system, in particular to improve its transparency, fairness and efficiency".

Designated by the French President, the new European Commissioner for the Single Market and Digital Technology, Thierry Breton, reaffirmed this line again on December 9. " European Commission considers necessary all reforms needed across the continent, including this one ", He said on Europe 1." It is perceived as necessary given the evolution "Life expectancy" and also the absolute need to have balanced diets ".

Low weight of European social

Apart from a few recommendations from the "European semester" who notably recommended that France take into account the inequalities generated by its education system, social reflection is relatively absent at European level. Without a financial argument, the EU has little to say to a Germany in the nails of the Stability Pact, but which has 3 million poor retirees, including many women over the age of 75. A situation which goes against the main principles enshrined in the "Base of social rights".

"The European Commission, which for years has not changed from its" living longer = working longer "scheme, is now realizing that it is not only the budgetary angle", said Sofia Fernandes, a researcher on economic and social issues at the Jacques Delors Institute. Faced with the risks of frustration for citizens, the European executive pledged, on Tuesday, December 14, to conduct by 2021 a consultation in connection with European unions on the issue of the European minimum wage, and the translation of the main principles of "Base of social rights" into concrete goals.



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