Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Bad Habit of Scapegoating Europe

(fa73, Eyes and Wool)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - Preserving a different retirement age for men and women keeps sexual discrimination alive.

Starting from 2012, Italian women working for the public sector will retire at 65 instead of 60. The measure has been included in the budget bill for 2011 and 2012 by the Government (1).

The decision, determining savings for € 1.4 bn in seven years (2), followed a letter by the European Commission reaffirming the obligation for Italy to remove any difference in retirement age between men and women working as civil servants, currently fixed respectively at 65 and 60.

The issue had been raised by the European Commission in 2005 and was confirmed by the European Court of Justice in 2008: "Italy has had 20 years to conform to the EU law concerning earning equality between men and women" explained Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (3). Refusing to comply with the EU law, Italy would undergo sanctions up to € 0.7 bn a day since sentence date (4).

As a rule, Italian media easily made Europe responsible for this unpopular measure (5). Actually Europe did not set any increase in retirement age for women, but simply asked Italy to make retirement age equal for men and women working in the public sector.

According to the former Employment Minister Cesare Damiano, the measure could be avoided by enabling all workers to decide whether to retire or not up to the age of 70: this reform would indeed allow both men and women to leave at 61 or 62 (6).

As explained by Chiara Saraceno, Italian women suffer heavy employment discrimination (7). Higher salaries for maternity and paternity leaves as well as gender quotas both for the public and private sector are needed.

What is the Government doing to cope with the problem?


(1) Davide Colombo, "Via allo scalone per le pensioni rosa",, June 11th 2010.

(2) Oscar Giannino, "Pensioni, resta il nodo della riforma strutturale per tutti", Il Messaggero, June 11th 2010, page 21.

(3) Adriana Cerretelli, "Dal 2010 pensioni rosa a 65 anni",, June 8th 2010.

(4) r.p., "Rivoluzionata l'età pensionabile. I giovani lasceranno a 70 anni",, June 8th 2010. 

(5) "Oggi il Consiglio dei Ministri discuterà della richiesta di anticipare al 2012 l'età pensionabile per le donne statali a 65 anni, come chiesto dall'Europa",, June 10th 2010.

(6) Cesare Damiano, "Pensioni: dal Governo una misura iniqua sulle donne",, June 10th 2010. Cesare Damiano was the Italian Employement Minister from 2006 to 2008.

(7) Chiara Saraceno, "Dov'è la vera parità tra uomini e donne?",, January 6th 2010. Chiara Saraceno is Research Professor at Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung in Berlin.

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