EUROPE - The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), a European Union consultative body set up in 1957, has called for new discussions on the EU portability directive.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels on regional and territorial retirement provisions, Italian committee member Susana Florio said "we haven't solved anything, we need more discussion" in terms of portability.

According to Floio, discrepancies concerning the organisational structures of pension funds at a national and regional level are "a serious obstacle".

She stressed, however: "Workers need certainty about their pension rights, particularly when they decide to go from one member state to another.

The EESC is calling for new strategies which make it possible for pension funds to be sustainable, while taking portability on board.

The portability directive was more or less shelved in recent months, as EU member states found it impossible to come to an agreement on a legislative framework.

However, IPE reported in October the European Commission adopted an amended proposal to reduce obstacles to workers' mobility across the European Union, and which gives them better preservation of supplementary pension rights. (See earlier IPE story: EC amends mobile pensions rights directive)

EC members sought to gain a consensus on this directive last week but certain States still refused to approve proposals and a unanimous conclusion was needed for these mobility proposals to be introduced.

Florio also said it would be important to review the pension fund provisions in the different EU countries, while conducting a macro-economic analysis and a sustainability review.

Moreover, she warned pension funds need to do more in terms of risk awareness.

"Pension funds invest a lot of money, but we are not aware of the real impact that problems might have," Florio said.

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