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EU pensions portability proposal under fire

EUROPE – The European Commission’s proposal for a directive on pensions portability has come under renewed fire from MEPs and industry groups.

The increasing feeling in Brussels is that the executive will have to go back to the drawing board and reconsider its plans.

The extent of the opposition to the measure, which critics say was not thought through, is demonstrated by one amendment to a draft European Parliament report on the issue.

“The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to propose rejection of the Commission proposal,” the amendment by the UK’s Derek Roland Clark states.

“This directive would not be necessary if pension firms were allowed to offer their services across borders,” he continues.

Various groups, including the European Federation for Retirement Provision, have issued critical comments on the plan.

Therese de Liedekerke, director of the social affairs department at employers’ body UNICE, said: “There are serious worries from the standpoint of the companies we represent.”

Speaking at an event to mark the EFRP’s 25th anniversary, she cited tax obstacles and potential higher costs – which could discourage employers from offering pensions to staff.

And the ambiguous “fair adjustment” wording could in reality lead to compulsory indexation of pension rights she argued.

“The text could lead to great legal uncertainty,” she said, complicated by the different systems both across Europe and even within countries.

At worst the plan could even interfere with the organisation of member states’ own pension systems. “The proposal should be re-examined.”

“I am one of those who are rather critical of the_proposal,” added Dutch MEP Ieke van den Burg. “It’s over-ambitious but has a lack of ambition. It needs to be re-examined.”

Austrian social security minister Sigisbert Dolinschek said the proposed directive “must not lead to a disadvantage to institutional pension schemes”.

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