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Europe

Spain announces deal with unions on raising the retirement age

Spaniards could work two years longer, thanks to a preliminary agreement between the government and the country's unions. The change is part of Spain's efforts to avoid the need for a financial bailout.

Graphic of a woman on a stack of coins.

Spain would have one of Europe's highest retirement ages

The Spanish government said on Thursday that it had reached a preliminary agreement with the country's biggest unions to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67.

The Spanish Labor Ministry said there was agreement in principle on the change, while union leaders said details remained to be ironed out.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has sought to raise the retirement age as part of efforts to persuade investors that Spain will not need a financial bailout like Ireland and Greece.

Retirement payments are a major drain on the Spanish economy. The Finance Ministry said pensions could account for up to 14 percent of Spain's public spending by 2050.

Spanish union members strike in June 2010.

Spaniards went on strike throughout 2010 as Madrid tried to cope with a financial crisis

Pan-European demographic problem

Spain is one of many European countries whose social system is under stress due to an aging population and declining birth rates.

In November, France raised its minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, in spite of widespread protests.

Spanish workers also held several strikes last year. But after the government agreed to let workers who have paid into the retirement system for 38.5 years retire when they are 65, the two main unions, UGT and CCOO, gave their backing.

Zapatero's cabinet is expected to approve the new retirement age on Friday, after which the Spanish parliament is set to vote on it. Union backing makes it likely parliament will also approve. The new retirement age would take effect in 2013.

Author: Shant Shahrigian (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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