German panel suggests pension age of 68; politicians say no

International

BERLIN (AP) — An expert panel advising the German government has suggested the country’s retirement age could be raised to 68, an idea that was swiftly rejected by senior officials on Tuesday as a national election nears.

The panel advising the Economy Ministry released a report Monday warning of “abruptly increasing financing problems” for Germany’s public pension insurance system from 2025 onward. It suggested a “dynamic coupling of the retirement age to life expectancy,” a system under which — if current forecasts of life expectancy are correct — the retirement age could be raised to 68 in 2042.

The government decided in 2007 to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67. The increase is being introduced gradually and will apply to all retirees by 2029. Since then, there have been periodic calls for people in Europe’s biggest economy to work even longer.

Germany will elect a new parliament in a Sept. 26 election that will determine who succeeds long-serving Chancellor Angela Merkel. With that in sight, politicians from all three governing parties were quick to bat away the idea of having people work longer — and avoid handing opponents potential ammunition.

“I think raising the retirement age again is the wrong way,” said Labor Minister Hubertus Heil of the center-left Social Democrats, the junior partner in Germany’s governing coalition.

The top lawmaker in Berlin for the Christian Social Union, which is part of Merkel’s center-right bloc, was no more enthusiastic. “We reject a later retirement age,” Alexander Dobrindt said.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a member of Merkel’s party, joined in the chorus of rejection. He tweeted that his opinion “for years” has been that Germany’s retirement age should stay at 67. Altmaier added that the expert panel is independent and its proposals aren’t binding on him or his ministry.

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