EUROPE – Dutch civil service scheme Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP is unlikely to move from the Netherlands despite the new pensions directive, says the fund’s pensions director Jaap Maassen.

Maassen was asked whether ABP - Europe's largest pension fund - could in theory base itself in a country where the rules are attractive under the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision directive.

“Yes, but I don’t think that would happen lightly,” Maassen, who’s also chairman of the European Federation for Retirement Provision, told ABP World magazine.

He said a drawback would be that such a fund would be detaching itself from its members.

“That would not be a good thing, in my view. After all, the power of pensions lies in the fact that they are solidarity product, embedded in a particular culture.” Maassen said ABP already has sufficient benefits of scale.

Another drawback would be that pension plans offered in another country would have to comply with social legislation of the host country.

He added that “unbridled ‘pension shopping’” would become possible - “not so much for participants as for business sectors and companies”.

He said that IBM, Nestle, Northern Trust and Unilever were “actively positioning themselves”.

“Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg are seriously thinking about putting themselves forward as attractive countries for pension funds to base themselves,” he told the magazine.

“Nobody knows where this will all lead. As far as pensions are concerned, in Europe we all still have to learn how to play the game.”

Maassen took over as chairman at the EFRP from Alan Pickering in 2004.