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Europe

German Press Review: Pension Reform Maze

Most German newspapers carried commentaries on the suicide attacks in Iraq, as well as on the SPD's pension law reforms which are up for discussion.


"It's a typical but brutal aspect of resistance against a foreign occupation to attack the soft targets that work with the occupiers instead of the soldiers themselves. However it's also a double-edged sword," wrote Bonn's General Anzeiger. "While such attacks are easy to carry out and hit the occupying forces right in their Achilles heel, the attackers are in danger of alienating their own people and therefore their recruitment pool," the paper observed.

The Westfälische Nachrichten in Münster wrote that the latest attacks thwart Washington's efforts to deploy NATO troops in Iraq. "Military responses can no longer be the solution," the paper contended, and suggested Washington must now support "the level-headed leaders in Iraq and hand over power to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible."

Commenting on the latest plans to reform Germany's pension system, the Frankfurter Rundschau criticised plans to reduce the minimum pension. "This means all those people working in low paying jobs can write off their monthly retirement payments as a complete waste because their pension will be worth a couple of euros more than someone's who never paid," wrote the daily and added that the SPD-Green coalition should seriously consider withdrawing the idea.

"Since 1957 the compulsory retirement fund has secured the standard of living for a pensioner," observed the Düsseldorf-based Handelsblatt. "In concrete terms this means a retiree, who paid into a pension plan his entire working career, will receive at least two thirds of his income." But as the paper pointed out, "in a country where the number of elderly is growing while economic growth is shrinking, pensioners cannot be spared." To prevent a drop in lifestyle pensioners will have to pay more into private insurance schemes or increase the age for entering retirement, the paper said.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung wondered how anyone could make sense of the pension debacle. "Every new variation on the pension reforms has increased people's insecurity rather than relieving it," argued the paper and said that most people have reached their tolerance limits.