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Wednesday, 14 June 2017 - Strasbourg
The need for an EU strategy to end and prevent the gender pension gap

European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the need for an EU strategy to end and prevent the gender pension gap (2016/2061(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 8, 151, 153 and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular its provisions on social rights and on equality between women and men,

–  having regard to Articles 22 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 16: The equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights (Article 3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)),(1) and UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 19: The right to social security (Article 9 of the ICESCR),(2)

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to Articles 4(2), 4(3), 12, 20 and 23 of the European Social Charter,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Committee of Social Rights of 5 December 2014(3),

–  having regard to Council Directive 79/7/EEC of 19 December 1978 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security(4),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(5),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(7),

–  having regard to the Commission Roadmap of August 2015 on a new start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 December 2015 entitled ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278), and in particular to Objective 3.2 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2011 on the situation of women approaching retirement age(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on the situation of single mothers(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on the impact of the economic crisis on gender equality and women’s rights(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance(15),

—  having regard to the Council conclusions of 18 June 2015 on ‘Equal income opportunities for women and men: Closing the gender gap in pensions’,

—  having regard to the declaration of 7 December 2015 by the EU Presidency Trio (Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta) on gender equality,

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the Council on 7 March 2011,

–  having regard to the study commissioned by its Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs entitled ‘The gender pension gap: differences between mothers and women without children’ (2016) and the Commission study ‘The Gender Gap in Pensions in the EU’ (2013),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0197/2017),

A.  whereas in 2015 in the EU the gender gap in pensions, which may be defined as the gap between the average pre-tax income received as a pension by women and that received by men, stood at 38,3 % in the 65 and over age group, and has increased in half of the Member States in the past five years; whereas the financial crisis of the last few years has had a negative impact on many women’s incomes; whereas in some Member States between 11 and 36 % of women have no access at all to any pension;

B.  whereas equality between women and men is one of the common and fundamental principles enshrined in Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union, Article 8 TFEU and Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; whereas gender equality should likewise be mainstreamed in all EU policies, initiatives, programmes and actions;

C.  whereas women enjoy poorer pension entitlements and payments than men in most EU Member States and are both over-represented in the poorest pensioner groups and under-represented in the wealthiest;

D.  whereas these disparities are unacceptable and should be reduced and all pension contributions be calculated and levied in a gender-neutral manner in the EU, which has gender equality as one of its founding principles, as well as the right of all people to a life in dignity as one of its fundamental rights as enshrined in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the EU;

E.  whereas a pension is the main source of income for one person in four in the EU-28, and whereas the significant increase in the number of people of pensionable age brought about by rising life expectancy and the overall ageing of the population will result in the doubling of that figure by 2060;

F.  whereas, as a result of demographic change, in future fewer and fewer active employees will have to provide for ever more pensioners, which means that private and occupational old age pension schemes will become increasingly important;

G.  whereas the aim of pension policies is to ensure economic independence, which is essential for equality between women and men, and that social security systems in the Member States give all EU citizens a decent and adequate retirement income and an acceptable standard of living and safeguard them against the risk of poverty resulting from various factors or from social exclusion, so as to guarantee active social, cultural and political participation and life with dignity in old age, in order to continue to be part of society;

H.  whereas growing individual responsibility for decisions regarding savings entailing different risks also means that individuals have to be clearly informed of the options available and the associated risks; whereas both women and men, and in particular women, have to be supported in improving their financial literacy level, in order to be able to make informed decisions in an increasingly complex area;

I.  whereas the pension gap tends to exacerbate the situation of women with regard to economic vulnerability and leaves them exposed to social exclusion, permanent poverty and economic dependence, in particular on their spouses or other family members; whereas the pay and pensions gap is even more pronounced for women with multiple disadvantages or belonging to racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, given that they are often in jobs requiring fewer skills with less responsibility;

J.  whereas pensions linked to individual rather than to derived rights could help guarantee everyone’s economic independence, reduce disincentives to participation in formal work, and minimise gender stereotypes;

K.  whereas, owing to their longer life expectancy, women are likely on average to require more pension income than men to cover their retirement; whereas such additional income may be available to them from survivor’s pension mechanisms;

L.  whereas the lack of comparable, comprehensive, reliable and regularly updated data on the basis of which to gauge the size of the pension gap and the relative importance of the factors that contribute to it makes it difficult to determine how best to tackle the problem;

M.  whereas the gap is larger (at more than 40 %) in the 65-74 age group than it is for all over-65s on average, in particular as a result of the fact that entitlements may in some cases, such as widowhood, be transferred in some Member States;

N.  whereas pension cuts and freezes increase the risk of poverty in old age, particularly among women; whereas the percentage of older women at risk of poverty and social exclusion stood at 20,2 % in 2014, compared with 14,6 % of men, and by 2050 the proportion of people over 75 at risk of poverty could reach 30 % in most Member States;

O.  whereas people over 65 have income worth around 94 % of the average for the population as a whole; whereas, nevertheless, around 22 % of women over 65 live below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold;

P.  whereas the average pension gap for the EU as a whole in 2014 concealed major disparities between n Member States; whereas, by way of comparison, the lowest gender pension gap is 3,7 % and the highest is 48,8 %, while the gap exceeds 30 % in 14 Members States;

Q.  whereas the percentage of the population receiving a pension varies widely between the Member States, standing at 15,1 % in Cyprus and 31,8 % in Lithuania in 2013, whilst the majority of pension beneficiaries in most EU Member States in 2013 were women;

R.  whereas the pension gap, which is the product of a range of factors, is a reflection of the gender imbalance that exists in relation to careers and family life, as well as opportunities to make pension contributions, position within the family group and the way in which income is calculated for pension purposes; whereas it also reflects labour market segregation and the higher proportion of women working part-time, for lower hourly wages, with career breaks and with less years in employment owing to the unpaid work performed by women as mothers and as caregivers in their families; whereas, therefore, the pension gap should be regarded as a key indicator of gender inequality in the labour market, all the more since the current level of the gender pension gap is very close to the total earnings gap (39,7 % in 2015);

S.  whereas the full extent of the pension gap, which is the product of all cumulated gender imbalances and inequalities - in terms, for example, of lifelong access to power and financial resources - that arise throughout people’s working lives and are mirrored in first and second pillar pensions, may be masked by corrective mechanisms;

T.  whereas the pension gap, when examined at any given moment, is a reflection of social and labour market conditions over a period stretching back several decades; whereas those conditions are subject to sometimes major changes which will have a knock-on effect on the needs of various generations of women pensioners;

U.  whereas the pension gap differs from one woman pensioner to another according to personal, social, marital and/or family status; whereas, in view of this, a one-size-fits-all approach will not necessarily produce the best results;

V.  whereas single parent households are particularly vulnerable since they represent 10 % of all households with dependent children, and 50 % of those are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, double the rate for the population as a whole; whereas there is a positive correlation between the pension gap and the number of children brought up, and whereas the gender pension gap of married women and mothers is much greater than that of single women without children; whereas, in view of this, the inequalities suffered by mothers, especially single mothers, are likely to be exacerbated when they retire;

W.  whereas pregnancy and parental leave tend to impel mothers - who represent 79,76 % of the persons who reduce their working time in order to care for children aged less than eight - into low-wage or part-time jobs or undesired career breaks to take care of their children; whereas maternity, paternity and parental leave are necessary and vital instruments for the better sharing of care-related tasks, improving work-life balance and minimising women’s career breaks;

X.  whereas the pay levels and thus the pension entitlements of fathers are unaffected, or may even be positively affected, by the number of their children;

Y.  whereas the female unemployment rate is underestimated, given the fact that many women are not registered as unemployed, particularly those living in rural or remote areas, many of whom also devote themselves exclusively to household tasks and childcare; whereas this creates disparities in their pensions;

Z.  whereas traditional working time arrangements make it difficult for couples in which both parents wish to work full time to strike a proper work-life balance;

AA.  whereas pension credits for men and women as a form of allowance for caring for children or family members could help ensure that career breaks for reasons of care do not have a negative impact on pensions, and it would be desirable for such schemes to be extended to or stepped up in all the Member States;

AB.  whereas pension credits applying to different forms of work may help all workers to get a pension income;

AC.  whereas, although some efforts have been made to improve the situation in this area, the employment rate among women still falls short of the Europe 2020 strategy targets, and is still far lower than that among men; whereas women’s increasing labour market participation contributes to efforts to reduce the gender pension gap in the EU, as there is a direct link between labour market participation and the level of pension; whereas, however, the employment rate contains no information about duration or type of employment and is thus limited in what it can tell us about pay and pension levels;

AD.  whereas the number of years worked has a direct impact on pension income; whereas women’s careers are on average more than 10 years shorter than men’s, and whereas the pension gap is twice as large for women who have worked for less than 14 years (at 64 %) than for those who have worked for a longer period (32 %);

AE.  whereas women are more likely than men to take career breaks, take on non-standard forms of employment, work part-time (32 % of women in comparison with 8,2 % of men) or on an unpaid basis, especially when they provide care for children and relatives and have almost sole responsibility for care and housework owing to persisting gender inequalities, all this being to the detriment of their pensions;

AF.  whereas investment in schools, pre-school education, universities and care for elderly people can help create a better work-life balance and can result in the long term not only in the creation of jobs, but also in women obtaining high-quality employment and being able to stay in the labour market for longer, which will in the long term have a positive effect on their pensions;

AG.  whereas informal care is a fundamental pillar of our society and is to a large extent carried out by women, and this imbalance is reflected in the gender gap in pensions; whereas this kind of invisible work is not sufficiently recognised, especially when considering pension entitlements;

AH.  whereas there continues to be a large gender pay gap in the EU; whereas that gap, which stood at 16,3 % in 2014, is caused in particular by discrimination and segregation resulting in the over-representation of women in sectors where pay is lower than in sectors dominated mainly by men; whereas other factors, such as career breaks or entering into involuntary part-time work to combine work and family responsibilities, stereotypes, undervaluing of women’s work, and differences in levels of education and professional experience also contribute to the gender pay gap;

AI.  whereas the EU’s objective of achieving adequate social protection is enshrined in Article 151 TFEU; whereas the EU should therefore support Member States by making recommendations on improving protection for older people entitled to a pension by virtue of their age or personal situation;

AJ.  whereas the strengthening of the linkage between contributions and earnings, taken together with the increasingly prominent role played by second and third pillar schemes in pension systems, is shifting the risk of the appearance of gender-specific factors in the pension gap towards private-sector providers;

AK.  whereas no ex ante or ex post gender impact assessments were conducted for the reforms to pension systems laid out in the Commission’s white paper on pensions of 2012;

AL.  whereas Member States have sole responsibility for the organisation of public social security systems and pension systems; whereas the EU has primarily a supporting competence in the field of pension schemes, particularly under Article 153 TFEU;

General remarks

1.  Calls on the Commission to work closely with the Member States in establishing a strategy for putting an end to the gender gap in pensions in the European Union and helping them to establish Guidelines in that regard;

2.  Endorses and supports the Council’s call for a new Commission initiative setting out a strategy for equality between women and men for 2016-2020, for this to take the form of a communication as has been the case with previous strategies, and for the EU’s strategic engagement on gender equality to be enhanced, linking it closely to the Europe 2020 strategy;

3.  Believes that this strategy should seek not only to address at Member State level the impact of the pension gap, in particular on the most vulnerable groups, but also to prevent it in the future by fighting its underlying causes, such as unequal positions between women and men in the labour market in terms of pay, career advancement and opportunities to work full time, as well as labour market segregation; encourages, in this regard, intergovernmental dialogue and best practice sharing among the Members States;

4.  Stresses that a multifaceted approach, with a combination of actions under different policies that aim at improving gender equality, is required in order to make a success of the strategy, which must embrace a life-course approach to pensions, taking the whole of the person’s working life into account, as well as addressing disparities between men and women in terms of employment level, careers, and possibilities of paying pension contributions, as well as those resulting from the way in which pension systems are organised; calls on the Commission and the Member States to follow up on the Council conclusions of 18 June 2015 entitled ‘Equal income opportunities for women and men: closing the gender gap in pensions’;

5.  Draws attention to the important role played by the social partners in the discussion of issues relating to the minimum wage while respecting the subsidiarity principle; stresses the important role of trade unions and collective bargaining arrangements in ensuring that older people have access to public pensions in line with the principles of solidarity between generations and gender equality; stresses the importance of taking due account of social partners when taking political decisions altering significant legal aspects of eligibility conditions for entitlement to pensions; calls on the EU and the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners and gender equality organisations, to set out and implement policies to close the gender pay gap; recommends that the Member States consider carrying out wage-mapping on a regular basis as a complement to these efforts;

6.  Calls on the Member States to put in place respectful and poverty-preventing measures for workers whose health does not allow them to work until the legal retirement age; believes that early retirement arrangements should remain in place for workers exposed to arduous or hazardous working conditions; considers that raising employment rates through quality jobs could help to reduce considerably the future increase of people unable to work until the legal retirement age and, thereby, to alleviate the financial burden of ageing;

7.  Is deeply concerned by the impact of the austerity-driven Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) on pension schemes and their sustainability and on access to contribution-based pensions in a growing number of Member States, and by the negative effects the CSRs have on income levels and on social transfers needed to eradicate poverty and social exclusion;

8.  Emphasises that the subsidiarity principle must also be applied strictly in the area of pensions;

Assessment and awareness-raising for more effective action to address the pension gap

9.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to continue investigating the gender pension gap and to work together with Eurostat and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) with a view to developing formal and reliable indicators of the gender pension gap, as well as identifying the various factors behind it in order to monitor it and set clear reduction targets, and to report to the European Parliament; calls on the Member States to provide Eurostat on an annual basis with statistics on the gender pay gap and gender pension gap, in order to make it possible to assess developments throughout the EU and means of addressing the matter;

10.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a thorough assessment of the impact on the most vulnerable groups, and on women in particular, of the recommendations of the 2012 White Paper on Pensions, aimed at combating the causes of the gender pension gap, as well as to establish a formal indicator of the gender pension gap and to conduct systematic monitoring; calls for adequate evaluation and gender impact monitoring of the recommendations or measures taken to date; calls on the Commission to support the development of gender-disaggregated statistics and research with a view to enhancing the monitoring and evaluation of the effects of pension reforms on women’s prosperity and wellbeing;

11.  Calls on the Member States to promote action to close the gender gap in pensions through their social policies, to raise awareness among decision-makers in this area, and to develop programmes that will provide women with more information on the gap’s implications for them, as well as with the tools they require with a view to devising sustainable pension funding strategies that are tailored to women’s specific needs, as well as on women’s access to second and third pillar pensions, particularly in feminised sectors where take-up may be low; calls on the Commission and the Member States to extend and further raise public awareness relating to equal pay and the pension gap, as well as to direct and indirect discrimination against women at work;

12.  Reiterates the need for clear harmonised definitions in order to facilitate comparison at EU level of terms such as ‘gender pay gap’ and ‘gender pension gap’;

13.  Calls for the Member States and the Union institutions to promote studies on the effects of the gender gap on the pensions and financial independence of women, taking account of issues such as the ageing population, gender differences in health conditions and life expectancy, how family structures have changed and the number of single-occupancy homes has risen, and differences in women’s personal situations; calls too for them to draw up possible strategies to put an end to the gender pension gap;

Reducing inequalities in terms of scope for paying pension contributions

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the EU legislation on indirect and direct gender discrimination is properly implemented and its progress systematically monitored, with infringement procedures initiated in case of non- compliance, and possibly revised in order to make sure that men and women are equally able to pay pension contributions;

15.  Condemns unequivocally gender pay disparities and their ‘inexplicable’ component resulting from discrimination at the workplace, and reiterates its call for Directive 2006/54/EC, which has been clearly and sufficiently transposed in only two Member States, to be revised to ensure more equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and pay, in application of the principle of equal pay for equal work between women and men, which has been guaranteed by the Treaty since the founding of the EEC;

16.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure application of the principle of non-discrimination and equality in the labour market and in access to employment, and, in particular, to adopt social protection measures to ensure that women’s pay and welfare entitlements, including pensions, are in line with the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or for work of equal value; calls on the Member States to establish appropriate measures to curb violations of the principle of equal pay for equal work or for work of equal value for women and men;

17.  Urges Member States, employers and trade unions to draft and implement serviceable and specific job evaluation tools to help determine work of equal value and thus ensure that men and women receive equal pay and hence, in the future, equal pensions; encourages firms to carry out annual equal pay audits, to publish the data with the utmost transparency, and to narrow the gender pay gap;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to tackle horizontal and vertical segregation on the labour market by eliminating gender inequalities and discrimination in employment and encouraging, in particular through education and by raising awareness among girls and women to take up studies, jobs and careers in innovative growth sectors which are currently dominated by men as a result of the persistence of stereotypes;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to offer women greater incentives to work for longer and with shorter breaks, in order to increase their degree of economic independence today and in the future;

20.  Points to the importance, in a context in which the burden of responsibility for pensions is shifting from state pension systems to self-funded schemes, of ensuring that access to the financial services covered by Directive 2004/113/EC is non-discriminatory and based on unisex actuarial criteria; notes that application of the unisex rule will help reduce the gender pension gap; calls on the Member States and the Commission to increase transparency, access to information and certainty for members and beneficiaries of occupational pension schemes, taking into account the EU’s principles of non-discrimination and gender equality;

21.  Emphasises that the Court of Justice of the European Union has made it clear that occupational pension schemes are to be considered pay and that the principle of equal treatment therefore applies to those schemes as well;

22.  Calls on the Member States to pay special attention to women, who often have not acquired pension rights and therefore lack economic independence, especially in case of divorce;

Reducing career-related gender inequalities

23.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission responded to its call to improve the reconciliation of professional and private life, by means of non-legislative proposals and a legislative proposal which creates several types of leave with a view to meeting the challenges of the 21st century; stresses that the proposals made by the Commission are a good basis for meeting the expectations of European citizens; calls on all institutions to deliver on this package as soon as possible;

24.  Urges Member States to comply with and enforce legislation on maternity rights so that women do not suffer disadvantages in terms of pensions because they have been mothers during their working lives;

25.  Calls on the Member States to consider employees being given the possibility to negotiate voluntary flexible working arrangements, including ‘smart working’, in line with national practice and independently of the age of the children or family situation, thus allowing women and men a better work-life balance, such that they do not have to favour one over the other when assuming care responsibilities;

26.  Notes the Commission’s proposal for carers’ leave in the directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, and recalls its call for adequate remuneration and social protection; encourages the Member States, on the basis of a pooling of best practice, to introduce, to the benefit of both women and men, ‘care credits’ to offset breaks from employment taken in order to provide informal care to family members and periods of formal care leaves, such as maternity, paternity and parental leave, and to count those credits towards pension entitlements fairly; considers that such credits should be awarded for a short, set period in order not to further entrench stereotypes and inequalities;

27.  Calls on the Member States to design strategies for recognising the importance of informal care performed for family members and other dependants and their fair sharing between women and men, the lack of which is a potential cause of career interruptions and precarious work for women, thus jeopardising their pension rights; in this context, stresses the importance of incentives for men to use their parental and paternity leave;

28.  Calls on the Member States to enable the transfer of the employee after the maternity or parental leave back to the comparable work arrangement;

29.  Points out that a proper work-life balance for men and women cannot be achieved unless local, high-quality, affordable and accessible care facilities for children, the elderly and dependants are available and without encouraging the equal sharing of responsibilities, costs and care; calls on the Member States to increase investment in services for children, emphasises the need for childcare facilities to be available throughout rural areas, and urges the Commission to support the Member States, including through the provision of available EU funding, in creating such facilities in a form that is accessible to all; calls on the Member States not only to meet the Barcelona targets at the earliest opportunity and no later than by 2020, but also to define similar targets for long-term care services, at the same time offering families that prefer a different childcare model the freedom to choose; congratulates those Member States which have already met the two sets of targets;

Impact of pension systems on the pension gap

30.  Calls on the Member States to assess, on the basis of accurate, comparable data, the impact that their pension systems are having on the pension gap and its underlying factors, in order to combat discrimination and create transparency in the pension systems of the Member States;

31.  Stresses that the sustainability of pension systems has to allow for the challenges posed by demographic changes, the ageing of the population, the birth rate, and the ratio between persons in gainful employment and those of pensionable age; recalls that the situation of the latter depends greatly on the number of years for which they have worked and paid contributions;

32.  Calls on the Member States, in order to ensure sustainable social security in view of the rising life expectancy in the EU, urgently to carry out necessary structural changes to the pension systems;

33.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take a closer look at how the pension gap might be affected by a shift from statutory state pensions towards more flexible arrangements in occupational and private schemes for pension contributions, with regard to the calculation of the duration of contribution to the pension system and to arrangements for gradual retirement;

34.  Warns of the risks to gender equality represented by the shift from social security pensions to personal funded pensions, since personal pensions are based on individual contributions and do not compensate for times spent caring for children and other dependent relatives, or for periods of unemployment, sick leave or disability; points to the fact that pension system reforms which link welfare benefits to growth, and to the state of labour and financial markets, focus only on macroeconomic aspects and overlook the social purpose of pensions;

35.  Calls on the Member States to remove the elements of their pension systems, and of the reforms implemented, that add to imbalances in pensions (especially gender imbalances such as the existing pension gap), taking into account the gender impact of any future pension reforms, as well as to implement measures to eradicate this discrimination; stresses that any policy changes related to pensions should be measured against their impact on the gender gap, with specific analysis comparing the impact of the proposed changes on women and men, and that this should be a feature of the planning, design, implementation and evaluation processes of public policy;

36.  Calls on the Commission to promote the pooling of best practice with a view to identifying both the corrective measures that are most effective and those that can tackle the factors contributing to the pension gap;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce unisex life tariffs in pension schemes and care credits, as well as for derived benefits, so that women can receive equal pension annuities for equal contributions, even if they are expected to live longer than men, and to ensure that female life expectancy is not raised as a pretext for discrimination, more particularly for the calculation of pensions;

38.  Calls for a review of all the incentives available under the taxation and pension systems and of their impact on the gender pension gap, with particular emphasis on households headed by single mothers; also calls for the abolition of counterproductive incentives and for the individualisation of entitlements;

39.  Highlights the important role played by survivor’s pensions in protecting and safeguarding many older women from the higher risk of poverty and social exclusion they face compared to older men; calls on the Member States to reform, where necessary, their systems for survivor’s pensions and widow’s pensions in order not to penalise unmarried women; calls on the Member States, supported by the Commission, to study the effects of different systems providing survivor’s pensions in light of the high rates of divorce, the incidence of poverty among non-married couples and the social exclusion of older women, and to consider providing for legal instruments to ensure shared pension rights in divorce cases;

40.  Highlights the fact that all people have the right to a universally accessible public pension, and recalls that Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines the rights of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence, and that Article 34 of the Charter recognises the entitlement to social security benefits and social services that ensure protection in the event of maternity, illness, industrial accident, disability, dependency on long-term care, old age, or loss of employment; points to the importance of public social security systems funded by contributions as an important component of adequate pension provision;

41.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that both men and women have the chance to achieve full contribution periods, and likewise to ensure everyone’s right to a pension, with a view to closing the pension gap by fighting gender discrimination in employment, adjusting education and career planning, improving work-life balance and enhancing investment in childcare and care of the elderly; considers that establishing sound regulations on health and safety in the workplace that take account of gendered occupational as well as psychosocial risks, investing in public employment services that are able to guide women of all ages in search of employment, and introducing flexible rules for transitioning from work into retirement is also relevant;

42.  Points out that in its General Comment No 16 (2005) on the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights set out the requirements of Article 3 in relation to Article 9 of the ICESCR, including the requirement of equalising the compulsory retirement age for both men and women and of ensuring that women benefit equally under public and private pension schemes;

o   o

43.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) 11 August 2005, E/C.12/2005/4.
(2) 4 February 2008, E/C.12/GC/19.
(3) XX-3/def/GRC/4/1/EN.
(4) OJ L 6, 10.1.1979, p. 24
(5) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(6) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(7) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(8) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 9.
(9) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 60.
(10) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 75.
(11) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 6.
(12) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 2.
(13) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 2.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0351.
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0338.

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