It could seem a utopian and illogical choise. Mr.
Hubertus ARRANDT, ex German Work and Social Affair Secretary and European
officer, who took part in this debate, admitted that –after six years in the
European Commission– the slogan they chose took it by surprise and he could say
that no harmonization as regards retirement systems had been planned up to
Unless it is carried out from a technical
standpoint, according to the difficult current situation, it is obvious that it
could be impossible to create a single system.
Unless you are a fortune-teller or a clairvoyant,
it is no easy to discover how can we implement in Europe a project that is
likely nonviable in France.
For this reason, the Forum debate thought it best
to put this problem to coming generations. In fact, we can ensure that
everything that is impossible today, tomorrow will not exists. Nations’ HISTORY
has often played a dirty trick on our statements and our beliefs and our
certainty has often collapsed.
To the European retirement. This subject appeared for
the first time on the occasion of the Chiefs of Staff summit in 2000 in Lisbon.
If we bet, as the participants to this 10th
Forum did, on the creation of a European retirement, we must contemplate some important
Why a European system? Which advantages can we
have? How can we carry it out?
The European currency favours and it will favour
more and more the work mobility. This situation will induce to adopt a European
social protection that will lead to a kind of 'minimum social pension'. This is
the result of the agreements concluded in Lisbon. This is the European
Parliament’s wish when it refers to a 'collective social
To the European retirement. Do the European
citizens agree about converging their retirement systems?
Nowadays Europe is in no position to carry out a
retirement harmonization. First of all, retirement is a competence derived from
subsidiarity. Although there are multiple systems,
in the near future, we will need to look for a
constructive approach to the problem, since the European enlargment constitutes
a challange for the European social model as long as systems are more
heterogenous every time.
To the European retirement. It could seem feasible if
we differentiate between funds and way (**).
A real harmonization (based on legal rules) would
be bound to fail. But, if we consider union as the best method (search for an
approach from the current systems), our hopes make sense. This is the European
Commission’s opinion at the moment. The cooperation begun and it was called
'Open Method of Coordination'.
Its main role consists in searching for common
points in order to create a European system that, if it can not be a single
system, at least coherent and homogeneous.
However, it is hard to believe in a rapid agreement
among 15 or 25 European countries since there are too many differences and
retirement is still one of the pillars of the national identity.
However, some important questions that 10 or 15
years ago seemed unattainable or Utopian have received a response. As for
retirement we can think that the economy would ensure a collective
Robert Holzmann, World Bank Director, stated
(literal words): 'If there is no cooperation between the member countries and
nobody reflects deeply on the retirement system reform, some countries will have some difficulties obeying the rules
established in Maastricht. On the other hand the professional and geographic
mobility, now at its fist stage, will cause the
creation of a minimum social pension. That’s how rights achieved in a member
country are valid in another member country'.
Some recent polls show that European citizen are
worried about the retirement guarantee and replacement taxes.
The fact is that every member country that decides
to reform its retirement system is worried about workers interests. However, as
well as words and ideas, we realize workers run
the main risk.
Retirement is a right achieved by work and all
common declarations in the European summit are not enough:
• we need to find the guiding principles to bring
together the common salaried workers interests since they enjoy best mobility in
a European market more open every time.
• we need to find the means to resolve thier social
• we need to offer pensioners a better European
To the European retirement. It is a challange that
coming generations will have to face up. But it is only an aspect of a challange
that the European Union must accept to achieve a social model, an integral part of the general European
ChretienVice-president of the National
Federation of Retired Stafffrom Savings
Banks in France
(*) Caisse des
Dépôts et Consignation is a financial and managing
institution belonging to retirement savings banks associated with EULIA, the
savings banks’ financial Group.(**) CoverAGE.