3 European Countries Grab at Private Pensions Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland call for citizens' savings By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Jan 3, 2011 2:51 PM CST 15 comments Comments FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2010 file photo, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for a EU summit in Brussels, Belgium. Hungary's democratic credentials are under scrutiny as it prepares to assume... (AP Photo/Thierry Charlier, File) (Newser) – As European governments seek new sources of revenue, private retirement plans are taking a hit. Since most are organized by the state, "European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends," writes Jan Iwanik for the Christian Science Monitor. Iwanick highlights five such schemes: Hungarians last month had to choose between handing the government their retirement savings or giving up their state pensions. In Bulgaria, the government called for $300 million of private early retirement savings to be moved to state pensions; trade union protests weakened the plan. The Polish government wants a third of future private retirement fund contributions to go to social security. Not a matter of personal savings, but related to national funds: In Ireland, the government earmarked some $5 billion of a national pension fund to save banks in 2009; this year, the rest of that fund was spent on the country’s bailout. France earmarked some $43 billion from the government’s reserve pension fund to cut a short-term pension deficit. Retirement savings that was to be used in the years 2020 to 2040 will now be used between 2011 and 2024.