The pensions discussion
I refer to the front page article Retiring At 65 Is Enough For Malta (June 23). The report refers to the EU Council meeting of Employment and Social Policy Ministers held last week in Luxembourg.
The item in question states that “Since then (2006), no new concrete measures have been introduced, although a review with 45 recommendations for further reform, including the introduction of a second pillar pension, had been presented to the government by the Pensions Working Group in 2010”.
I am sure that readers are interested in reading about a lively and healthy discussion on the European Commission’s White Paper on Pensions that was held during last Friday’s Core Group meeting, a day before the above-mentioned article was published. The Minister for Justice, Dialogue and Family, Chris Said, who presided over the meeting, stated that the pensions reform is yielding results and that, as a matter of fact, a Pension Strategy Unit will be set up within the Department of Social Security, while a Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income (composed of representatives from public entities and the social partners) will be set up in the coming weeks. The minister explained that the new commission will be focusing on an educational strategy targeting, in particular, financial literacy. Dr Said emphasised that it will not be necessary for the government to increase the retirement age before 2029.
Further developments were highlighted during a presentation delivered by Joe Camilleri, Director General of the Department for Social Security, who quoted article 64B of the Social Security Act (Cap 318 of the Laws of Malta) stating that every five years a strategic review of the pensions system should be carried out in order to achieve further adequacy, sustainability and social solidarity. The first Strategic Review was tabled in Parliament on December 14, 2010.
In fact, the government is prioritising the pensions system so that it will be adequate and sustainable for Malta in the years to come. Moreover, Mr Camilleri emphasised that Malta’s position is not against strengthening the policy coordination framework at EU level in the area of pensions, however, this should not prejudice member states’ competence in determining pension policies at national level.
Hence, any proposed deepening or completion of the European framework for pensions must fully respect this principle. In fact, Mr Camilleri stated that further discussions at national level are required to discuss the recommendations being proposed by the European Commission to abolish mandatory retirement ages, introduce equal treatment in pensions and reduce or restrict access to early retirement schemes.
The social partners have until today to submit their reactions to the government on the final report of the Pensions Working Group. Meusac’s Core Group brings together representatives of government, the political parties, constituted bodies, civil society and experts to discuss matters of EU policy and legislation having national implications.