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Europe / Pensions fit for the Union
The diversity of pensions systems in European countries is more of a cost than an advantage. Hence the need to pursue a certain degree of harmonisation, even if it does mean resorting to the bland instrument of ‘open coordination’, already applied to other important social spending items. The new architecture of social security, currently struggling to assert itself, is based largely on a conception of social insurance as a way of helping individuals to transfer income from their working lives to their inactive lives – as a tool to guarantee consumption in later life, not as a form of assistance offered by the active classes to the inactive ones. True, it is up to the single countries of the Union to complete the reform of their pension systems, but, nonetheless, the open coordination method could represent an important tool to achieve some form of convergence of social security policies indirectly. Hopefully, ‘portable’, flexible pensions – a prerequisite for a more dynamic Europe – will be introduced to combine citizenship and solidarity on the one hand, and individual responsibility, risk assumption and flexibility on the other.