Spain's government said Friday it had approved a plan to raise the official retirement age from 65 to 67 in order to help social security system cope with a rapidly ageing population.
Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the plan, which would be debated in parliament, "would bring the new retirement age to 67."
The current legal retirement age is 65 for both men and women.
"Our (social security) system is good shape today," but reforms are necessary to maintain it in the future, said de la Vega.
Finance Minister Elena Salgado said the government would introduce the reform gradually from 2013.
"It's a proposal ... we have a lot of time to debate it," she said.
Two major unions, the CCOO and the UGT, have already condemned the plan.
But Spain's employers' association, the CEOE, has called for the retirement age to be brought up to 70.
The announcement comes a day after the National Statistics Institute published a study predicting that by 2049 there would as many people of working age in the country as those of 65 and over.
The institute Friday also reported that the country's unemployment rate soared to 18.83 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, one of the highest in the European Union, as Europe's fifth-largest economy remained mired in its worst recession for decades.