The Evolution of Pension Policy at National and Supranational Level
Pension policy represents in many respects the corner stone of the contemporary European welfare states. And its reform has emerged as a key issue in most of the European countries. This book aims at improving the knowledge of the long-term and more recent evolution of retirement programmes and their regulation at national and supranational level. It gives detailed information about pensions in nine Western and Eastern European countries (Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and UK). In parallel it develops the study of the European Union action in the field, through regulation, the Stability and Growth Pact and the Open Method of Coordination.
What does history tell us about the evolution of pensions? Is it a story of stability or change? Is there any convergence between European pension models? And then what is the role of the European Union in the field?
This book provides answers to these questions and gives scholars, students and policy-makers a comprehensive description of national retirement programmes as well as theoretical analysis of the reform politics, output and outcomes with a focus on national and European dynamics.
‘Pensions in Europe, European Pensions’ represents a promising step beyond the more traditional comparative contributions, revealing the complex interaction of national and supranational institutions engaged in the most important welfare policy in the ageing European society.
CHAPTER 1 Reforming Pension Systems. Challenges, Institutions and Politics 37
37 CHAPTER 1 Reforming Pension Systems Challenges, Institutions and Politics Introduction The present chapter and the two that follow develop the comparative analysis of national pensions. The main argument put forward in the Introduction is that pension reforms and the related political process are largely shaped by the “collision” between critical junctures and pension institutions (whose degree of stability and legitimacy is the result of their evolution). The following pages further develop such a hypothesis. The first part focuses on the key concepts and the analytical framework mentioned in the Introduction. Section II in particular looks at the multi- faceted challenge to the financial and social sustainability of retirement schemes. A combination of a changing macro-economic context, new social risks, unintended and unequal redistribution, as well as politico- institutional challenges to national welfare states, forms part of the mounting pressure for reforms. In this part, European integration is also assumed to represent a challenge and a constraint on national pro- grammes. While these challenges are largely similar across Europe, their actual traits and magnitude may vary from one country (or group of countries) to another. This is particularly true for some of those countries that joined the EU in early 2000s. They have had a peculiar trajectory throughout the 20th century, with two specific points related to the rise and fall of state socialism. The challenges peculiar to Central- Eastern European pensions will be briefly introduced. In Section III, reference is made to the institutional dynamics of retirement programmes. In...
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