Increasing the official retirement age - a move currently being envisaged by the European Commission - is not very popular in Europe: according to a new Eurobarometer study, released on 13 January, two-thirds of the citizens questioned are against the idea of pushing back the official retirement age by 2030. However, they are willing to work longer, provided they are given the opportunity to do so. For close to two-third of respondents, the idea of combining part-time employment and part-time retirement seems more appealing than full retirement.

The study, which cost the EU just under a million euro, is accompanied by a series of statistics gathered by the Statistical Office of the European Union on active ageing and solidarity between generations. These statistics show that the proportion of the population aged 55 and over in the total population increased in all member states between 1990 and 2010 - from 25% in 1990 to 30% in 2010. Moreover, according to latest projections, this proportion is set to reach 40% by 2060.

"I don't think there is reason to fear the demographic change, on condition that we preserve our health longer, that we create more opportunities on the labour market for older people, that we remain active members of the community, and that we are able to live in an environment where ageing is not synonymous with dependence," said the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor, who was disappointed by the fact that only 42% of citizens are concerned about this issue.

The results of these two surveys could influence the white paper on the future of pensions, which is currently being finalised at the Commission. This text, announced for February, will offer 25 political initiatives in two areas: on the one hand a better balance between the time spent at work and in retirement; and on the other hand the contribution of the complementary pension savings to the adequacy of pensions.

The white paper should also encourage an increase in the age of retirement. On the subject of retirement...

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