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
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.