Italy's Berlusconi: Age for women to retire may rise

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Saturday he favours a later retirement age for women than the current 60, but only if they so choose.

Italy's Berlusconi: Age for women to retire may rise

He told reporters Italy was obliged to respond by Jan. 13 to an objection from the European Commission that Italian legislation "discriminates" against women by forcing them to retire five years earlier than men, who can work until 65.

"We think it should be optional, a choice for women, if they want to stop they stop, and if they want to keep working they keep working," Berlusconi said at the prime minister's traditional end-year news conference.

The issue has sparked controversy in recent weeks, with public affairs minister Renato Brunetta drawing fire from trade unions and some cabinet colleagues when he came out strongly in favour of raising the retirement age for women.

Berlusconi said the cabinet still had not discussed the issue and had no plans to consider a pension reform of any kind "in coming months".

He announced the government would make more money available for temporary workers who lost their jobs and currently receive little or no income support.

He gave no details on these plans but said it was vital to try to boost the optimism of citizens who, he warned, are already showing worrying signs of consuming less in the face of the international financial crisis.

On international issues, Berlusconi said Italy's presidency of the Group of Eight rich nations which begins in January will have a different structure from previous G8 gatherings and will include at least 18 countries during the three day meetings.

The first day will be reserved for the traditional G8 nations, the second day will be broadened to include India, China, Egypt, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil and the third and final day will include at least four more countries which he did not specify.

Berlusconi, who boasted a special relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, said he was sure Italian-American ties would not suffer after President elect Barack Obama takes over.

"We will keep the same relationship with the next administration that we had with the last," he said.

"Nothing makes me think I won't have the same positive relations with Obama that I had with Bill Clinton."


Last Mod: 21 Aralık 2008, 13:27
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