The new year is projected to be a particularly difficult one for the Labor and Social Security Ministry as the practical results from implementation of the recent pension system reform and the reorganization of the Manpower Organization (OAED) should start becoming apparent. Though the political problem has been dealt with, the big question over the future cost and effective management of the country’s pension system remains. The government now has to prove it can restructure and reorganize social insurance funds, provide better services and reduce the time it takes for pensions to be issued. The integration of bank employees’ pension funds into the Social Security Foundation (IKA), the country’s biggest, could provide the signal for others to follow, but recent talks between banks and employees have not been encouraging. Progress depends on finding a way to finance banks’ actuarial obligations toward staff. Sources say the Economy Ministry is willing to consider Piraeus Bank Chairman Michalis Sallas’s proposal for a bond loan. As regards OAED, the ministry has committed itself to specific results in the individualized treatment of the unemployed, on which the flow of European Union funds depends. Progress has been painfully slow. The EU Social Affairs Council is due to meet in Athens on January 23 and 24 to discuss a revision of employment policy and coordination over social insurance issues.