With the focus on Brussels, the Toledo Pact has entered its final stretch to reach a possible agreement on pensions. On Tuesday the deadline given by the president of the commission, the socialist Magdalena Valerio, for the groups to submit a report with their positions expired and yesterday was the time to begin discussing them in person. In a meeting that started at four in the afternoon and that lasted until around eight o’clock, it was found that, although the groups seem close to agreement on some points, there are also reluctance among some spokespersons when it comes to setting specific deadlines.
One of the issues on which progress was made yesterday, according to sources in the negotiation, is that of maintain retirement at age 60 for civil servants of passive classes with 30 years of contributions, as professors, career military, judges, prosecutors or officials of the Central Administration. Until now, there were reluctance as to whether it was an issue that should be included in the Toledo Pact or, on the contrary, to remove it from this field, since it is not an aspect that is related to the sustainability of the pension system. However, the same sources suggest that yesterday both the PSOE and Podemos insisted on the suitability of it to be included in the commission’s report since Europe is looking closely at special regimes like this and has recommended that they be integrated. Thus, yesterday it was agreed to include a specificity in which it is concluded that there will be no reduction in the acquired rights of these groups, as the popular ones had requested.
Currently, these officials can voluntarily retire once they reach the age of 60, provided that they have 30 years of service to the State recognized and have completed a minimum period of 15 years of effective service to the State. He “Shielding” from these conditions It occurs after the publication in one of the royal decrees of economic measures to face the pandemic approved in April and in which the integration of the passive class regime in the Ministry of Social Security became effective. This caused a stir among officials and political groups have quickly picked up the baton.
However, it should be remembered that this recommendation will come at the time that the Ministry of Social Security advocates introducing measures that bring the real age closer to the legal retirement age (67 years) for the rest of the contributors. In fact, yesterday, Minister José Luis Escrivá insisted in Congress that there are “Poorly designed incentives that must be corrected” with regard to early retirement and he advanced that he will soon present a series of “concrete proposals” to voluntarily delay retirement.
Another of the proposals that were put on the table yesterday was, according to sources in the negotiation, that the self-employed have a special recommendation to prevent its aspects from being scattered throughout the document. The commission also debated about the revaluation of pensions, something that in principle reflects the highest consensus but, however, yesterday caused differences in the wording of the measure.
Thus, the works will continue today first thing in the morning. And it is that, after years without lighting a pact that guarantees the sustainability of pensions and removes this issue from the political arena, the pandemic has made this a question that cannot be postponed. The aid from Brussels will come in exchange for reforms, including pensions, which cannot fall on deaf ears. Therefore a political consensus ensuring its processing at a time when parliamentary forces are so complex is an endorsement that the government does not want to renounce.
The commission began yesterday to specify the changes that they want to make in the draft inherited from the previous legislature and on which the groups decided to get to work so as not to start from scratch and since there was consensus on several of the points.
Toledo Pact sources explain that it exists some agreement on the summary of objectives that the groups requested from the Ministry of Social Security and that this in turn referred to the commission, although changes have been requested in the wording of the same. From the PSOE there is great interest in accelerating the work and sign an agreement before October 15, when Spain must send the reform plan. However, the calendar is tightening and before that date it is very difficult to reach a consensus. In fact, other sources suggest that, if there is one, the consensus could arrive within a period of around a month.
Other novel points on which positions could have already been approached revolve around the recognition of sickness benefits such as polio, the recognition of the benefits for common-law couples and correcting the penalties for people with long careers who, however, have to retire early and suffer significant penalties in their benefit, as claimed by the Asjubi association 40 .