EU alarmed at Polish gender moves
The European Commission has said that reintroducing a different retirement age for the genders in Poland could violate equality rules.
Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and its allied president, Andrzej Duda, campaigned on promises to undo a 2012 reform that had been gradually raising the retirement age to 67 for both genders.
The government’s change, largely popular among Poles, will take effect from October, reintroducing a retirement age of 65 for men and 60 for women.
“Equal treatment between women and men is a key pillar on which our union is based,” EU commissioners for justice and gender equality, Vera Jourova, and employment and social affairs, Marianne Thyssen, wrote in a letter to Poland’s labour minister, Elzbieta Rafalska.
“The commission has concerns about the changes in the Polish statutory pension system which might be incompatible with EU law.”
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (pictured) said women should have the right to retire earlier because they had more responsibilities, including raising children.
“The role of women must be appreciated and therefore the legislators provided for the possibility of an earlier retirement,” Morawiecki told Catholic broadcaster Trwam.
“What we propose reflects not only social expectations but also different roles for women, different roles for men.”
The policy is predicted to reduce growth and tax income, at a time when the PiS has already sharply increased government spending.
Brussels has already raised the issue in its criticism of separate PiS-sponsored legal moves to put courts and judges under more direct government control.
The commissioners said countries were not obliged to legislate for equal retirement ages but a permanent exemption from the general aim of reaching gender equality on social protection was not possible.
Poland and the EU have already clashed over democratic principles, migration and large-scale logging of the largely untouched Bialowieza forest.
Poland is also considering whether to ask for reparations from Germany for damage caused during the Second World War.
A parliamentary research office was investigating the procedure, PiS MP Arkadiusz Mularczyk said.
The report is expected next week.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told a Polish broadcaster: “We are talking here about huge sums, and also about the fact that Germany for many years refused to take responsibility for the Second World War.”
At an event last week to mark 1944’s Warsaw uprising, in which around 200,000 Poles died and the capital was flattened, defence minister Antoni Macierewicz said Germans needed to “pay back the terrible debt they owe to the Polish people”.
Nearly six million Poles are estimated to have died during the Second World War.
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Picture credit: Flickr