Belgium has introduced a new law covering pensions changes, with provisions regarding state organisations' pension funding and allowing multi-employer schemes to be set up. But the law has to receive the royal decree and there are doubts if the law will get the necessary support at the council of ministers for this.

The law covering state organisations requires those who are privatised or become public enterprises to make external arrangements for their pension obligations. The Office des Controle des Assurances (OCA) says that if they are commercial operations, the law will require them to take this action, otherwise externalising of arrangements will be optional. The organisations will be able to set up pension funds or to go to insurers.

For the multi-employer scheme the current restrictions requiring a link or bond between participants and the restrictions on the commercial running of such schemes are removed in the new law.

Paul de Smet of Brussels consultants Conac says the multi-employer scheme change could leave the way open for companies too small on their own to set up a pension fund, or banks could set up ageneral pension fund and attract companies who are now insured".

Thierry Bauwelinckx of the Leuven-based consultants Infact, says if smaller companies were able to set up common schemes, it would reduce the share of insurance companies, who have been the main opponents of multi-employer schemes.

On the changes at the state level, Conac's de Smet believes the climate is very much in favour of setting up funds for publicly owned companies. "The Flemish authorities are much more in favour of pension funds and are keen to stimulate companies de-pending on the government to go to pension funds.""