EUROPE - Aon Hewitt is to advise the European Commission (EC) on the launch of a pan-European pension fund for its researchers.

The three-year contract will see the consultancy advise on the preparation of the scheme until 2012, as well as oversee its rollout the following year.

The new scheme is part of a European Union drive to allow its researchers greater mobility and allow for its pensions to be transferable.

It comes after the EC's Directorate-General for Interpretation tendered for assistance in running a retirement vehicle for its conference interpreting agents.

However, there has been resistance to the introduction of a scheme for researchers, with European Association of Public Sector Pension Institutions chair Wolf Thiel telling a conference in 2009: "Such a pan-European scheme would not serve the interests of the researchers working at various institutions across Europe, and not in ours."

Thiel went on to argue that researchers would be better served by already existing national schemes.

Leonardo Sforza, head of European research and EU relations at Aon Hewitt, said he was "honoured and delighted" to assist the EC with its pragmatic approach of setting up a "truly pan-European pension fund".

Yvan Legris, chief executive at Aon Hewitt for Europe, added: "We are seeing a growing interest in pan-European pension funds from multinational organisations who are seeking to improve governance and manage risk."