ITALY - Italian pension reform has generated controversy after it was revealed the European Commission could challenge it over the retirement age for women.
The issue flared up after economy minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa recently promised changes to the different retirement ages for men and women seeking an old age pension.
It currently stands at 65 for men, and 60 for women, who have made 20 years of contributions to the social security system. But this could increase to 62 for women, under new political proposals.
Furthermore, the reform reportedly risks an infraction action from the European Commission because it does not align women’s retirement age with that for men.
As a result it is believed that European monetary and economics commissioner Joaquin Almunia may make detailed comments on the issue next week.
Marcello Marchese, a benefits consultant at Watson Wyatt Italia, rejected the notion that the European Commission may launch a challenge.
Marchese said: “They can apply some pressure but the non-discrimination principles do not cover the social security and pension system.”
He added that the issue was hampered by arguments between the country’s political parties.
In a related issue, an agreement was reached last Friday between unions and the government to raise the state retirement age from 57 to 58 in 2008 – and not 60 as planned by previous prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
It means the retirement age will gradually be stepped up to reach 61 in 2013.
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