Magazine article European Social Policy

Demographic Changes : Eldr Favours Flexible Extension of Working Life

Magazine article European Social Policy

Demographic Changes : Eldr Favours Flexible Extension of Working Life

Article excerpt

Focusing on the question of demographic variation, the annual congress of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR), held in Helsinki, called for more flexibility in job markets and an increase in employment. This message, which was raised several times during the conference, was adopted, on 15 October, via a resolution to tackle the problem head on. "European Liberal Democrats are convinced that these questions demand an immediate response with policies that actively involve the elderly as well as the young in working life society", the resolution declares.

MARKET FLEXIBILITY

The document also calls for the introduction of common guidelines for member states on how to guarantee citizens' financial futures, in particular with the abolition of mandatory retirement ages. "The longer people remain active in their community, the better their health and well-being will be," the text states.

Some delegates even mooted the concept of the self-determination of retirement, such as German MEP Gesine Meissner: "In my opinion, it is necessary to stop speaking in terms of age and instead allowing people the opportunity,aif they are still in good health, to work if they want to". ELDR President Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck acknowledged that self-determination could be a solution: "Some cite the example of Sweden, which allows a certain margin (61-67 years) and allows the extension of this age bracket to 69, but we must await the adoption of the amendments," adding that she herself favoured finding a flexible solution.

The document also supports the principle of a "fourth income pillar," insisting that the lengthening of one's professional life should complement retirement income.

Sixten Korkman, managing director of the Economic Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA), placed the debate in its European context. "Considering the differences between job markets across the EU27, the European Union's role is relatively limited. …

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