EUROPE – The European Commission has commissioned a number of pension providers in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands to explore the possibility of building a pan-European pensions registry.

The tracking system would provide European citizens with an online overview of their accrued pension rights.

The group of participating providers includes APG, PGGM, MN and Syntrus Achmea in the Netherlands, PKA in Denmark and ETK in Finland.

The project comes as part of recommendations set by the European Commission in its White Paper on Pensions, released in February 2012.

In the White Paper, it made 20 recommendations to increase transparency in the European pension system, including the development of a tracking system.

According to the €26bn Danish pension scheme PKA, the system will be "crucial" to pensioners, enabling them to track their pensions over a lifetime.

A PKA spokesman told IPE: "In the future, many more European citizens will work cross-border during a lifetime – and pension rights may be difficult to keep track of.

"An online service creating such an overview is definitely not an easy thing to establish, but it's crucial to employees working part of their life in different countries and maybe 'leaving' pension rights behind."

He also pointed out that the pension providers involved in the project came from countries boasting "excellent" pension systems.

"Denmark and Netherlands look most alike and are frequently related to as being the best in the world when it comes to sustainable pension systems," he said.

Denmark already has a similar system in place, having launched PensionsInfo, which provides information on first and second-pillar pensions, in 1999.

A spokesman at PGGM, the leading partner on the project, added that a number of other EU member state also offered similar systems.

"However," he said, "most member states are still 'undeveloped' in that sense. Our initiative can help those countries set up systems to be more transparent about individual pension rights."

The Netherlands introduced a pension tracking system, the "Pensioenregister" – a joint initiative of pension funds, insurers and the social security bank SVB – in 2011.

According to PGGM's spokesman, the tracking system project could help the Netherlands extend its current system, as there was currently "room for improvement".

"At the moment, our system covers the first and second pillars only, but the third pillar is not yet included," he said. "We might find ways to do so in the near future."

He added that the six pension providers would assess best practice already in place across Europe by analysing the options introduced by the member states with such systems.

The group aims to develop a cost-effective system by 2015 and will then send its recommendation to the European Commission, according to PGGM.