NETHERLANDS - A pension fund for the self-employed in the Netherlands is getting closer to becoming a reality, according to Fieke van der Lecq, professor of pension markets at the Erasmus School of Economics.

Speaking at a conference on the reorientation of pension funds, she said the liberal party VVD and the liberal democrats D66 were developing a joint initiative for such a scheme.

Van der Lecq said it would be relatively easy to set up a pension fund for the self-employed, also known as zzp'ers.

The main condition would be for the law to recognise zzp'ers as an occupational group, she said.

According to the professor, the growing number of self-employed workers should be able to join a non-mandatory pension fund - that also allows them to opt out - as a basic facility.

To encourage competition, zzp'ers should be offered a choice between two or more schemes, Van der Lecq said.

Recently, liberal MP Ineke Dezentjé Hamming announced that VVD and D66 would table a draft bill for a pension fund with a flexible deposit.

However, she conceded they were still considering the potential problem that not all self-employed would be keen to join a mandatory pension fund.

There are currently more than 700,000 zzp'ers in the Netherlands.

Because they cannot save for an additional pension in the second pillar, they largely depend on pension insurance in the third pillar, but many are not saving for a pension at all.