GERMANY - A representative of Germany's labour ministry has confirmed that an occupational pensions panel is to established at the request of the AbA, the country's association of occupational pensions.

Heribert Karch, head of the AbA, had called for the creation of a permanent panel to discuss the German second pillar as part of a manifesto issued by the association as a contribution to the ongoing dialogue on pensions in Germany.

Speaking to delegates at the AbA's autumn conference in Cologne today, Annette Niederfranke, senior representative from the German labour ministry, said: "The idea to have an institutionalised dialogue on occupational pensions is great."

She confirmed that the ministry was in favour of creating such a panel and added that it was in fact "long overdue" and a "really good idea".

Karch thanked Niederfranke for publically accepting his proposal.

In her address, Niederfranke thanked the AbA for its work and encouraged the association to continue to participate in the pension dialogue.

"The question is how we can increase the share of occupational pensions in old-age benefits, and this is where we are counting on the AbA - because it is a bad idea for civil servants to tackle this on their own," she said.

She also reassured the association that the ministry "fully supported" its criticism of Solvency II for pension vehicles and confirmed that the current recommendations on the IORP directive "ran the risk of Solvency II being applied to pension vehicles".

She did reject one of the AbA's recommendations, however, saying she "did not have much hope" of changes to the legal framework for occupational pensions regarding the taxation of companies and members.

She stressed that there would "not be any additional money from taxes".

She also said she also feared such a measure would fail to have a broad effect across the population, merely benefitting people with higher income.

Nevertheless, in his response, Karch renewed calls for company tax incentives to help them achieve occupational pension coverage of 80-90%.

He added that people from industries where occupational pensions were already well established would not have to apply for the Zuschussrente, an additional pension recommended by the labour ministry for people who have worked or raised children but face a below-minimum pension.

Karch stressed that, in principle, the AbA welcomed the Zuschussrente, which also makes additional savings in the second and third pillars a condition for being granted this additional payment.