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IORP revisions will 'endanger' Dutch Pensions Agreement

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  • IORP revisions will 'endanger' Dutch Pensions Agreement

EUROPE - Dutch pension schemes, fiduciary managers and unions have warned that recently agreed changes to the country's pension system could be undermined by revisions to the IORP directive.

In submissions made to the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), healthcare fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW) warned that the Pensions Agreement could be "endangered" by new EU regulations, while PMT, PME and fiduciary manager Mn raised concerns about how the revised directive infringed on member states' sovereignty over labour and social laws.

"We have great fears that this pension deal will be endangered by the decision concerning the review and revision of the IORP directive," the joint submission by the two industry schemes and the fiduciary manager said, with the sentiment echoed by PFZW.

The submission added: "A unique and harmonised security level at the European level is uncalled for, as this is an intrinsic part of the pension deal that is negotiated between social partners at national level."

Employee federation MHP, which raised many similar issues regarding the IORP directive's impact on the Pension Agreement, said it did so to highlight that, according to the Commission's own Green Paper on pensions, European policy "must not impede" any such agreements.

Discussing details of the new Pensioenakkoord in its submission, employer and employee umbrella body Stichting van de Arbeid noted that, as a result of the new agreement, the regulatory framework was being adapted to incorporate new levels of benefit guarantees agreed as part of the collective bargaining agreements. 

"The Dutch supervisory system follows the major change in the type of contract, and not the other way round," it said. "That should also be the case as regards European supervision."

The sentiment was echoed in several other submissions, including one by union umbrella group FNV.

It said: "It would be a fundamental error for the process that led to the Pensions Agreement in the Netherlands to need to be repeated due to the implementation of the European supervisory system."

PFZW also expressed concerns about the lack of detail within the IORP consultation on the issue of the "specific Dutch situation" of indexation.

"This may turn out to become a legal issue where the nature of the benefits will depend on the exact formulation in the pension scheme," it said, noting that it could result in an "undesirable" situation whereby one IORP is forced to offer indexation, while another would be faced with no such legal obligation.

The Dutch ministry for social affairs raised similar concerns in its submission, calling on EIOPA to "better illustrate" how such an approach would be accommodated in the proposed holistic balance sheet, as envisaged by the European supervisor.
 

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