Work-shop about the future of pension systems

Aquest cap de setmana (13-14-15 de febrer) el grup Economistes Europeus per una Política Econòmica Alternativa (EPOC) organitza una sessió de treball a Barcelona sota el títol: A Work-shop about the future of pension systems:
desirable reforms within the public system and scope for improvement in private pensions?

A continuació us adjunto el progama:

A Work-shop about the future of pension systems:
desirable reforms within the public system and scope for improvement in private pensions

Organised by the EPOC Network and its Social Policy section. To be held at Barcelona, from the 13th-15th February. Place to confirm later

List of persons that have already confirmed their attendance to the Work-shop:

Andre Christine, Cepremap, France
Balckburn Robin Essex University
Concialdi Pierre Ires, France
Etxezarreta Miren Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona
Lordon Frederic, Cepremap, France
Minns Richard Researcher, United Kingdom
Sawyer Malcolm University of Leeds
Zubiri Ignacio Universidad del País Vasco, Spain

The purpose of the Work-shop: For the last two years the EPOC group on Pensions has been analysing the strong trend towards privatisation of the public systems of pensions in the world and especially in the European Union and the will be- new members. Out of this work the group has concluded that the private systems are not better for the welfare of pensioners, the population in general and the functioning of the economy and society than the public systems, and that the danger of an economic crisis of the public systems is rather dubious and in any case much lighter than it is asserted and possible to counter if adequate measures are taken. Therefore it has come out clearly in favour of the maintenance of the public systems and against the development of private systems.

The work-shop does not propose to come back to revise those arguments and counter arguments for the privatisation of pensions but considers that they have already been settled for the purposes of our work, therefore the objective of the Workshop is to advance towards the design of improvements of the present public pension systems.

However it is recognised that the changes that are taking place in the labour market and in society require to be considered in relation with the public system of pensions if their functionality to increase the welfare of the populations and the efficiency of the system is to be maintained and improved. Because of it, it is considered that a revision of the existing proposals for improvement of the system and an ample debate about the nature and main features of the public pension systems and how to improve them in the future may be of social interest.

Also, although the position of the Group is in favour of the reinforcement of the public systems, unfortunately this is not what is happening in our societies and private systems are being developed and expanded mainly under the orientation of public and private organisations that are more preoccupied by budgetary limits of the governments, expansion of financial markets or even only about greater profits for the financial institutions involved. It is considered here that it may be worthwhile too to discuss about the ways in which if private systems are developed they may be socially designed in order to defend and improve the interests of pensioners and stakeholders.

We propose to devote the Work-shop to these two aims which are, of course, closely related.

Methodology: The idea of the Work-shop is to provide an opportunity for informal discussion about the selected topics in order to advance towards building up some suggestions to improve the present pension systems, with the focus placed about securing the improvement and financial availability of the public pension systems.

The plan of the meeting is to devote as much time as possible to discussion of the different issues. Thinking jointly and discussing the more relevant points may be more fruitful than presenting full papers. However, since some of the persons attending the meeting have proposed to present papers, at the Sessions more closely related to the themes of the proposed papers we could start with a short presentation of the papers as an introduction to the discussion. However, forgive me if I stress that we should not think in terms of formal Sessions for presentation of papers but devote most of our time to discussion and drawing of suggestions to improve the present pension systems. Even if a Coordinator is assigned to each session free discussion should be encouraged.

Although an Agenda for the meeting is advanced we should consider it in a very flexible way and if we wish to devote more or less time than the proposed to a specific subject changes may be done. Also, although the names of Coordinators are given, please let me know if any of you prefer to coordinate a different Session.


Friday 13th. 17.00- 17.30: Arrival and welcome

17.30- 19.30 Session 1: Ideas to improve the present public pension systems.

Ways in which the present public systems could be improved, from different view points:
.. ways to improve and secure the financial availability of the public pension systems: improving the labour market, the scope to increase contributions, the role of taxation ?
.. national situations and European convergence: desirability and/or possibilities of convergence of different European systems: establishing minimum or average norms around social/pension expenditure in relation with GDP, replacement rates: relation with wages, minimum wage or poverty levels?
.. the special situation of the CEE countries

There will be a short paper by P. Concialdi to introduce the subject

Coordinator: Pierre Concialdi

Saturday 14th

9.30- 11.30 Session 2: Labour markets and Pension systems.

How can the public pension systems take into account the changes in the labour market (labour precariousness, new trends in labour careers, self-employment, shorter working lives?) How the efficiency of the present public systems may be improved.
Social agents and the pension issue. The role of Unions. The reaction of workers to Pension Reform.

Coordinator: Christine André

11.30-12.00 Pause

12.00- 14.00 Session 3: Labour based systems or citizenship based ones?

Exploring the scope of citizenship based systems, their impact in society and labour markets, their requirements ( economic and social). May Basic Income be a substitute for pensions or it plays a different role? How to reconcile the egalitarian approach with a maintenance of standard of living approach? The economic requirements of Basic Income; the labour and social requirements.

Coordinator: Miren Etxezarreta

14.00-16.00 Lunch

16.00-18.00 Session 4: Towards improvement of the private systems.

Main shortcomings of the private systems: uncertainty, high costs, low rewards? The control of managers. The question of participation of pensioners: What type of participation? The problems of representation.

Coordinator: Ignacio Zubiri

18.00- 18.30 Pause

18.30- 20.30 Session 5: Pensions are not only pensioners business.

Pensions and the accumulation process: the weight of financial interests as limits to improvement of pensions systems. The European Union policies and the pension systems: impact of the Stability and Growth Pact and the building up of an European Integrated financial market in the possibilities of financing better systems.
The macroeconomics of pension systems. New ways of financing pensions systems. The real costs of pension systems: fiscal rebates and subsidies (do we have any data about subsidies to private systems?If we had them it may be a good idea to bring them along to allow for more concrete discussions)

Coordinators: M. Sawyer and R. Minns

Sunday 15th

9.30-11.30 Session 6: Private systems as mechanisms for social participation.

The debate about the scope to utilise pension funds as an instrument for social participation. Employees ownership: its possibilities, its risks, its deception. May employees ownership change the distribution of power and the social relations?

There will be a paper by R. Blackburn, and it may be one by F. Lordon

Coordinators: R. Blackburn and F. Lordon

12.00- 14.00 Session 7: Conclusions and recommendations.

We should end up with some proposals or at least with the identification of some further fields of work to advance in the desired direction.

Coordinator: Miren Etxezarreta

Barcelona, 30th January 2004

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