EUROPE - The European Commission has adopted an amended proposal to reduce obstacles to workers' mobility across the European Union, and which gives them better preservation of supplementary pension rights.

The proposal - adopted today and now renamed The proposal for a directive on the minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility by improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights - sets minimum requirements for better access to pension preservation rights of occupational pension members as well as improved access to "useful and timely information" so mobile workers' pensions are not penalised by their mobility.

What appears to have been removed through the amendment, however, is references to the "portability of supplementary pensions rights" and an earlier suggestion all pensions regimes across national states should be harmonised.

Instead, the amendment says "account should be taken of the characteristics and special nature of supplementary pension schemes and the way they differ within and among the Member States".

The Directive applies only to supplementary pension schemes "existing through an employment relationship" and does not apply to individual arrangements or to employer-sponsored schemes which no longer accept new members.

Moreover, outgoing workers should have the right to leave their vested pension rights as dormant rights in the supplementary pension scheme in which their entitlement was established.

Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, said the amendment achieved "the right balance between reducing obstacles to mobility, while maintaining a stable and sustainable environment for the development of supplementary pension provision is one of Europe's greatest challenges".

He also said enabling workers to move freely around the EU and without losing important occupational pension benefits is a clear example of "'flexicurity' in action".

The amended proposal will now to be taken forward by the Portuguese Presidency to seek unanimity by the European Council, followed by agreement with the European Parliament through a second reading.