Written by David Eatock
Given ageing demographics, Member States have taken action to reform their public pension systems to put them on a more sustainable footing for the future. The 2015 Ageing Report projects that, over the long term, there will be a reduction in public pension spending as a share of GDP in the majority of Member States, largely as a result of implemented pension reforms. The same report, however, notes that pension adequacy will also decline, on average. Against this backdrop, there have been calls in recent years for citizens to have greater opportunities to build up safe supplementary pensions. Some see occupational pensions, with their social partner involvement and possibilities they offer to share risks and reduce costs, as a good option.
The European Parliament has called on the Commission to encourage Member States to facilitate participation in occupational pensions and to make proposals for promoting such pensions where they do not yet exist. The social partners have also called for the promotion of occupational pensions. But currently only a few Member States have mature and significant occupational pension sectors and, as with public pension systems, they have been under pressure in recent years. Adjustments and reforms are helping to maintain these strong occupational sectors, but expansion, both within countries with existing provision and in particular in those that do not yet have significant occupational pension sectors, looks muted for now.