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Riemen: Brexit may force Dutch pensions industry to look to France

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The Dutch pensions industry could seek to increase ties with France should the UK decide to leave the European Union in June’s referendum.

Speaking at an Institute for Pensions Education conference, Gerard Riemen, director of the Dutch Pensions Federation, said the Dutch pensions industry had cooperated with the UK on pensions issues often and that a vote for Brexit would be seen as a great loss.

“The UK is a partner that thinks along the same lines we do,” he said.

“They have a pension-fund sector with a lot of capital, like us.”

He said the Dutch industry would lose a “close friend” in the event of a Brexit, and that it would need to reassess its relationship with other European pension systems.

He said the Dutch pensions industry communicated regularly with Germany’s, “but, because pensions over there are largely paid from financial reserves, their system differs from the Dutch one”.

“There is a reason,” he added, “why we have stepped up investing in our relationship with the French.”

Riemen said the French, like the Dutch, valued risk-sharing and solidarity in pensions, although he acknowledged that, in France, these principles are implemented in the first pillar, not through capital funding.

He noted, however, an increasing interest in France for capital-funded pensions, similar to those found in the Netherlands.

Janwillem Bouma, chairman at PensionsEurope, said he would also like to see the UK remain within the EU.

He cited the financial transaction tax, the IORP II Directive and plans for European solvency rules for pension funds as areas where the Netherlands and the UK would cooperate.

A spokesman for the Dutch Pensions Federation also highlighted the European Market Infrastructure Regulation and the proposed Capital Markets Union as areas where the Dutch could work with the “influential” UK pensions sector. 

Riemen did not, however, rule out cooperating with the UK on pensions altogether, even if it did vote to leave the EU.

“Non-EU members, such as the Swiss and the Norwegians, are also represented in Brussels, after all,” he said. 

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