Poland aims to lower retirement age in 2017

WARSAW- Poland's government aims to lower the retirement age next year, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said on Friday, adding her voice to a presidential election pledge that would unravel the previous administration's pension reform.

Cutting the retirement age would also strain a budget that is under pressure from a generous social spending agenda, risking a further clash with Brussels for a government that EU authorities have already criticised for a perceived weakening of Poland's democratic credentials. "When it comes to the retirement age, ... we want the schedule of proceedings to be coordinated in such a way so that the project really becomes binding next year," Szydlo told a news conference marking the first 100 days of her Conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party's government.

Many economists say Poland cannot afford lowering the retirement age because of low birth rates.

President Andrzej Duda, a close ally of the PiS, included cutting the retirement age among pledges that helped him secure a surprise win in presidential elections in May last year.

Some voters had criticised Duda's predecessor Bronislaw Komorowski for approving a law in 2012 that would gradually increase the retirement age to 67. In November, Duda sent a draft bill reversing the changes to parliament.