German lawmakers back early retirement plan

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers have approved a pension-reform package including a much-criticized provision for some people to retire early on full pensions.

Germany is raising the retirement age to 67 from 65 but plans, at the insistence of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-left coalition partners, to allow people who've paid pension contributions for 45 years to retire at 63 without a financial hit.

The package also features higher pensions for mothers who stayed at home, advocated by Merkel's conservatives. Annual costs are expected to total up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion).

Lawmakers approved the plans Friday in a 460-64 vote, with 60 abstentions.

Business leaders and some opposition figures say Berlin is sending the wrong signal by encouraging other European countries to raise retirement ages yet making early retirement easier at home.