Magazine article European Social Policy

Social Security : Public Hearing Looks at Future of Social Security Schemes

Magazine article European Social Policy

Social Security : Public Hearing Looks at Future of Social Security Schemes

Article excerpt

In a public hearing, on 3 June, the Employment Committee of the European Parliament debated the sustainability of current social security systems and the different options for financing pensions and health care in the future. Some MEPs and experts were concerned about women's risk of poverty in old age and the negative influence of migration on the new member states' social security systems.

Almost all countries with the highest figures of public pension spending (more than 10% of GDP spent for pension benefits) are European, stressed Asghar Zaidi of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Many of these countries brought about reforms which improved the long-term fiscal sustainability of their pension systems, he said. However, he also warned that reforms which strengthened the link between contributions and pension benefits led to less redistribution and higher rates of poverty in old age.

"At the moment we still have a Bismarck-style pension system where wives depend on their husbands' pensions," said Astrid Lulling (EPP-ED, Luxembourg), who will draft the Women's Rights Committee's opinion. She called for a European framework directive to solve the problem of lacking social security cover for some women. Women who stopped working to take over family duties were left without or with only the minimum social security cover, should they get divorced, she stressed.

"We have to make the first step before the second," answered the Employment Committee's rapporteur, Gabriele Stauner (EPP-ED, Germany), stressing the need to debate the future financing of social entitlements. …

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