Keywords: Pensions; Italy; European Semester; Sovereign bond yields.
In the aftermath of the 2009-14 sovereign debt crisis, the introduction of the European
Semester shifted part of the policy-making process from the national to the supranational
level. The interaction between external market signals (the interest rate
on public debt) and political influence (formal and informal European conditionality)
have accelerated and homogenized national pension reforms, thereby reducing
the ability of individual member states to undermine the fiscal sustainability of their
retirement systems. Focusing on the Italian experience with pension reforms (2011-
2019), the article shows that while Italian governments are affected by the abovementioned
interaction, formal political pressures seem to be largely ineffective. Specifically,
Country-Specific Recommendations signal the progressive dissatisfaction of
the Commission with the pension reforms adopted by Italy since 2016.