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Dutch government fears losing UK as partner on EU pensions

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The Dutch government has added its voice to concerns from the country’s pension funds that the UK’s exit from the European Union will mean the loss of an ally on pension matters.  

Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for social affairs, has indicated that the cabinet fears losing a partner on the pensions dossier as a result of the UK leaving the EU. 

Answering questions in parliament last week, she said that Pieter Omtzigt, MP for the Christian Democrats (CDA), had rightly noted that the Netherlands’ best partner on pensions is to leave the EU.

“This is a worrying development indeed,” she said.

Omtzigt had asked how the government would ensure it found new partners on the EU pensions dossier.

In Klijnsma’s opinion, it was good that the review of the IORP directive had been completed, as it would provide clarity about European legislation during the coming years. The new IORP directive will be evaluated in six years’ time. 

However, the state secretary emphasised the importance of staying focused and keeping in touch with other EU member states, the European Commission, and the supervisor for the sector, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority. 

Omtzigt referred to an earlier statement by Gerard Riemen, director of the Netherlands’ Pensions Federation, who had also noted that the country would “lose a partner in Brussels” when the UK leaves.

Riemen predicted that finding a new partner would be difficult, “because of the differences between the predominantly capital-funded Dutch pensions system and the pension arrangements elsewhere in continental Europe”.

Earlier, Dutch pension funds had made clear they feared the uncertainty for investments and their funding that Brexit was causing. 

The Dutch pension fund assocation expressed concerns about the impact of Brexit on EU pension legislation negotiations even before the referendum last year.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Why this fear? I believe the UK will still remain a reference point regarding possible best practices. I think we should put more efforts in involving other European nations to embrace key principles. Also good to open up the debate. It now looks like "us against them". Not a very good position for an alignment anyhow. So also a positive side to BREXIT. Fear is a bad starting point. Better to look for elements that will connect us in Europe.

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  • The fear is justified. Only Ireland remains as a member-state with comparable pension interests. There are two decision procedures in the EU. Qualified majority and unanimity. Financial matters require a qualified majority. The Netherlands and Ireland cannot block unholy initiatives such as the financial transaction tax by themselves. Social matters need unanimity, but Brussels' practice is that isolated diplomats "seek new instructions". With Britain out, the road is open for a simple-minded destruction of the Dutch and Irish pension system by member-states who think differently.

    The said, Brexit is unavoidable. The Dutch should construct a new alliance. France looks obvious, but will the twain ever meet?

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