CDU Vice-President Jens Spahn wants to abolish the pension at 63. Harsh criticism was not long in coming – but he receives support from employers.
Berlin – Retiring at 63 is very popular with Germans. But it also exacerbates an already existing problem: the shortage of skilled workers. That is why the Union has proposed to abolish early retirement. Deputy parliamentary group leader Jens Spahn (CDU) told Bild am Sonntag: "Retiring at 63 costs prosperity, burdens future generations and sets the wrong incentives. It should be abolished immediately and replaced by a better disability pension." Two million skilled workers who had retired earlier were now "sorely lacking". But from the ranks of the SPD, the Greens, the Left, the FDP and the trade unions, outrage and criticism of this proposal immediately followed.
SPD far back Spahn's pension proposal
Rhineland-Palatinate's Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) called the demand unjust and ruthless. "Mr. Spahn may not even be able to imagine that," she told the German Press Agency on Monday. "It's about roofers, salespeople, nurses, workers who have worked hard all their careers and contributed a lot to the prosperity of our country." It was "a sign of respect" that they could retire without deductions. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's SPD head of government Manuela Schwesig and the SPD in the Bundestag also rejected the initiative.
Left Party leader Janine Wissler criticized Spahn's demand as "a disrespect for the lifetime achievements of hard-working people and a pension cut through the back door." The shortage of skilled workers will not be combated by a higher retirement age. "This makes many professions less attractive." What is needed are good working conditions, the strengthening of collective agreements, more further training and apprenticeships. Green Party expert Frank Bsirske warned in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that employees simply could not work until the age of 67, for example in nursing and daycare centers. For them, an end to retirement at 63 would have "fatal consequences".
Jens Spahn wants to abolish the pension at 63. © Political-Moments/IMAGO
Retirement at 63: who can claim it
The regulation was introduced in 2014 by the then black-red federal government and is aimed at "particularly long-term insured persons" who have paid contributions for at least 45 years. Those born before 1953 could retire at 63 without any deductions. For younger people born before 1963, the age limit for this increases gradually. From the year of birth in 1964, it is then back at 65 years, as the German Pension Insurance (DRV) informs.
When it was introduced, the government had forecast around 200,000 applicants per year for this unreduced pension. However, there were then several tens of thousands more per year, for example 2021,268 in 957. In total, there are already around two million. At the end of 2022, the Federal Institute for Population Research announced that people are more likely to retire early. Many retire at the age of 63 or 64 – well before the standard retirement age. According to the institute, in 2021 almost one in three access to retirement pensions was via retirement at 63. In addition, people are more likely to retire before the standard retirement age and accept reductions in the amount of their pension.
DGB boss on abolition: "Very far removed from the real working world of many"
The head of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Yasmin Fahimi, told the Rheinische Post: "Anyone who wants to let those who are already at the limit continue to work is very far removed from the real working world of many." The FDP politician Pascal Kober told Die Welt: "The CDU is increasingly saying goodbye to the top performers in our country." Instead of starting with those who would have worked the most for prosperity, it should become more attractive to voluntarily work longer. Ulrike Schielke-Ziesing (AfD) summed up Spahn's initiative with the words: "There is less pension, or work until you drop."
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The managing director of the employer-financed "Initiative New Social Market Economy", Thorsten Alsleben, on the other hand, supports Spahn's idea. He told Bild am Sonntag: "The pension at 63 no longer fits in with the times and must expire by the end of 2030 at the latest." It costs the contributors billions and additionally exacerbates the shortage of skilled workers. As the initiative announced on Monday, a study commissioned by the Prognos Institute showed that retirement at 63 had withdrawn more than 200,000 employees from the labor market last year alone. Without the regulation, the skills gap would be around 10 to 20 percent smaller. (ph/dpa)