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 5 EU Regulation of Pension Policy 173
173 CHAPTER 5 EU Regulation of Pension Policy Introduction: The EU Role in the Field of Pensions The first four chapters have described the evolution of national retirement programmes in some EU Member States. Pension systems have represented milestones on welfare policy through which nation- states have engaged in income redistribution. Retirement policy has thus consisted of both the provision of benefits to protect against old-age risks and the regulation of welfare programmes (managed by public and non-public institutions). The former action forms part of the broadly- defined positive state that aims at producing goods and services, and is provided with planning functions (Majone, 1994). In such an ideal type, the main instrument in the hands of the state for pursuing public interests is financial resources (Moran, 2001). The latter (pension regulation) consists of rule-making to steer the activity of public and non-public providers of such social protection. While the national level is still the main locus for this policy (both redistributive and regulatory tasks), the EU level is characterized by expanding competence and influence. The process of European integration has eroded Member States’ sovereignty and led to a multi- tiered polity (Leibfried, 2005). In the words of de Burca (2005) the EU’s welfare dimension has emerged as an “unplanned collage”. While European integration in the realm of pensions has been tradi- tionally limited, some long-term developments may represent a certain limitation of national prerogatives (Pochet, 2005; Goetschy, 2006).1 As stressed in Chapter 1, EU has favoured domestic changes...
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