I thank the Deputy. I will answer the tabled question first, and I will then give him the update he seeks.
My Department is responsible for Government policy on civil and public service pensions. In that context, the Department monitors relevant pension developments outside the Irish public service, including in the areas of private sector pensions, social insurance based pensions and international public sector pensions.
With regard to international public sector pensions, proactive data compilation as to the position in individual other European countries, including in respect of the scheme specifics referred to in the Deputy's question, is undertaken by my Department according as need dictates and within available resources.
We are a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and my Department is affiliated to the European Association of Public Sector Pension Institutions. These and other similar links allow my Department to leverage extensive repositories of pension information and comparative international pension studies which are available.
In that context, there are two particular reports that have been of great help. The OECD Pensions Outlook 2016 included a chapter examining the pension system for civil servants in OECD countries, including Ireland. The 2014 published OECD report entitled Reviews of Pensions Systems: Ireland provided a detailed international perspective of retirement income provision.
Comparisons like these are helpful. However, they have to be approached with a degree of caution given the significant diversity often present from country to country in regard to key pension-related variables. They include contribution rates, benefit levels, pension qualifying ages, dependant benefits, tax treatment of pensions, scheme financing and other matters.
With regard to where we are in the current negotiations, I expected them to be difficult, and they are difficult. The Government has raised matters regarding productivity and pensions. I do not believe those negotiations will be complete this week.