Romania’s Parliament on Wednesday voted to abolish special pensions for lawmakers in what was hailed as an important moment for showing that high-level officials have a sense of social responsibility.
The bill submitted by the opposition Social Democratic Party passed unanimously with 357 lawmakers in favor. Lawmakers from the party that represents the interests of ethnic Hungarians, a junior party in the ruling coalition, abstained.
“It’s an important moment for Romania, for this generation,” said Aldred Simonis of the Social Democratic Party after the vote.
Ludovic Orban, chairman of the Liberal Party which has constantly opposed special pensions for lawmakers also praised the development, saying: “Nobody should have special privileges.”
Dan Barna, who heads the Save Romanian Union, the main junior coalition partner said: “The demographic pyramid will overturn in Romania, and there won’t be money for special pensions.”
There has been a lot of debate about special pensions in recent years, about who gets them and who deserves them. Lawmakers are generally seen as not deserving of the privileges.
Romania pays some 37 million lei, 7.6 million euros a year about to 870 former lawmakers who receive special pensions. After Wednesday’s vote, those lawmakers will no longer be eligible for special pensions.
Most EU countries have special pensions, alongside their general pension systems. They are generally granted to beneficiaries with a special status, such as state employees of all branches of government, security and defense forces, including some civil professions, and people that work under difficult conditions.
Hallmarks of special pensions usually include a lower retirement age, contributory periods counted more favorably, or higher benefits.
However, across Europe, such preferential schemes are being phased out, especially in the case of security and defense workers and state employees.
Special pensions for state employees and employees of state-owned enterprises are more controversial in terms of social equity and administrative efficiency.