EUROPE - The cost of an ageing population in Europe is expected to "dwarf" the impact of the current financial crisis many times over, a European Commission report revealed.
The EC said increasing the state pension age could be a way to tackle the problem.
The report said: "Though the debt and deficit increases are by themselves quite impressive, the projected impact on public finances of ageing populations is anticipated to dwarf the effect of the crisis many times over."
The UK, Ireland, Greece and Slovenia were named as the countries most in need of debt reduction policies and long-term reform of social protections like public pensions.
In all cases, the expected costs of age-related expenses were projected to be more than 12% of gross domestic product.
The report added: "In nearly all of these countries, the sustainability gaps are the result of a very large projected increase in age-related expenditure, compounded in most cases by large initial imbalances, and hence they are exposed to a higher long term risk."
The report suggested one way to deal with rising costs is to raise the pension age, which will boost the working population.
"Moreover, the extension in working life and the respective accumulation of pension rights will have a favourable impact on pensioners' income," the EC said.
Other changes countries should explore were listed as changes to the accumulation of pension rights and removing incentives for early retirement.
The countries in the strongest position to tackle long-term cost increases were Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Sweden.
These countries have already instituted comprehensive pension reforms and tout a relatively strong budgetary position.
But in Portugal, pension reforms have not been enough as "the structural budgetary position remains largely unbalanced," the report said.
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