The three main trade unions in the Netherlands have vehemently denied that agreement has been reached on a new pensions system, following the publication of a leaked draft in a national newspaper.

The unions FNV, CNV and VCP have all stated that an accord regarding the update of the pensions system would only have been reached after their members’ approval.

Tuur Elzinga, the FNV’s pensions negotiator, said nothing had been signed yet, and that the published concept was merely one of the documents in the negotiating process.

CNV and VCP also emphasised that the leaked document was not the result of a tête-à-tête between the FNV and employer organisation VNO-NCW, as the newspaper had suggested.

Wouter Koolmees, minister of social affairs, told journalists that he would not respond until he had received a formal proposal from the Social and Economic Council (SER), which has been tasked with advising on the issue.

He reiterated that the SER not only comprised representatives of the social partners, but also “crown members” – independent experts appointed by the king.

Roald van der Linde, pensions spokesman for the VVD party, part of the coalition government, also said he would only comment when a full agreement had been concluded.

Martin van Rooijen, MP for the party for the elderly (50Plus), said the concept was a step in the right direction.

He noted that political tensions were likely, as the accord seemed to be at odds with the cabinet’s coalition agreement.

Meanwhile, the leaked concept accord has confirmed that employers and workers want to link the update of the second pillar to the first pillar.

They have insisted that the pace of raising the retirement age for the state pension – as already announced by the government – must be slowed down, explaining that raising the retirement age by a year for every year of additional longevity seemed socially unsustainable.

The social partners also wanted more scope for older workers to retire earlier, for example through a flexible state pension.

They indicated that, without an agreement on these issues, the other parts of the accord wouldn’t stand.

The new pensions contract under real terms – as envisaged by employers and workers in the leaked document – is a collective arrangement without hard promises, based on market rates with the application of the ultimate forward rate (UFR).

As the pensions promise is a soft one, the contract needs adjustments to the current financial assessment framework (nFTK).

In the opinion of the social partners, individual pensions accrual – the contract favoured by the government, and for a long time investigated by the SER – would still be possible without legal changes.