The Dutch government is prepared to slow down its planned increase for the retirement age for the state pension in return for trade unions’ support for reforming the Netherlands’ pensions system, according to a national newspaper.

De Volkskrant cited several sources as confirming that social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees had offered to roll back the government’s earlier decision to raise the state pension (AOW) age to 67 in 2021.

Instead, the increase would be postponed by four years, to take place in 2025.

Slowing down retirement age increases is particularly important to FNV, one of the Netherlands’ largest unions, which had made the issue conditional to its support for system reform.

The FNV has also demanded an improved approach to inflation compensation, as well as mandatory pensions accrual for people in flexible work contracts and self-employed workers.

De Volkskrant reported that the cost of the compromise was estimated at €500m.

Wouter Koolmees

Wouter Koolmees, the Dutch government’s social affairs minister

Previously, Koolmees had stuck to the government’s decision to increase the AOW age to 67 in 2021, with subsequent rises linked to life expectancy improvements.

The FNV declined to comment on the Volkskrant report, with a spokesman highlighting that the minister hadn’t issued an official announcement.

“Moreover, the AOW age is part of the current complex negotiations about a new pensions system,” he added.

A spokesman for the minister also declined to comment this morning.

More hurdles to tackle

If the Dutch government was prepared to slow down the increase of the retirement age for the state pension, it would remove one hurdle to reaching an agreement about system reform.

However, the controversial issue abolishing average pensions accrual would remain.

The government wants to adopt a degressive accrual approach, meaning younger workers would accrue proportionally more pension rights than their older colleagues. However, it has not made any commitment to compensate older workers as a transitional measure.

The costs of a transition from average to degressive pensions accrual have been estimated at between €25bn and €100bn, depending on the degree of compensation.

Trade unions and employers have been negotiating a new pensions contract, as the backbone of a new pensions system, for several years.

The latest deadline of 1 April 2018, set by Koolmees, passed without a result, meaning the government’s stated aim of bringing a new system in 2020 was unlikely to be met.