Chipping away at Europe's pensions
The past year has seen pension entitlements reduced in several European countries, including Britain where a public-sector strike over the issue was under way on Wednesday.
Here is the state of play concerning state pensions in key European countries.
It should be noted that many countries, including Britain, also encourage the financing of supplementary pensions through either mandatory schemes linked to workplaces, or voluntary private insurance schemes.
Minimum age to get basic state pension: currently 65 for men and 60 for women, being raised progressively to reach 66 for both sexes by 2020, and then 68 by 2046. In June, the government said it would align public sector pensions on the private sector.
The government is also sharply increasing employee contributions for public sector pensions, and basing the level of pensions on average career earnings rather than the final salary level on retirement.
In the private sector, many companies have replaced compulsory pension schemes with voluntary ones, meaning that millions of employees are paying in little or nothing, and therefore face poverty in retirement.
Minimum age to get full basic state pension: 60. The government is progressively increasing this to 62 by 2017 for most employees.
Current conditions to receive full-rate pension: beneficiaries must either be aged 65 or have contributed to the state pension system for 40 years, a duration which is being increased progressively for later generations.
The government is also increasing the 65-year threshold for a full pension to 67 by 2022.
Minimum age to retire on a full state pension: 65, rising in stages to 67 by 2029. However people who have paid in for 45 years will still be able to retire at 65.
The basic number of years' work required to get a full pension is 35, although this can include periods of study, parenting and unemployment.
Minimum age to get a full pension: 65, which the government is increasing to 67 between 2013 and 2027.
The government is also increasing the number of years' payments required for a full pension, from 35 at present to 37 by 2027.
Conditions for a state pension: From 57 in 2007, the age threshold has gone up to 60 and is due to go on rising to reach 67 in 2020.
To get a full pension, employees must have paid in for 41 years, which the new government of Mario Monti wants to increase to 43 years.
© 2011 AFP