Belgium refuses to back EU pensions directive

SPAIN- Belgium’s delegation refused to back the EU directive for occupational pensions at yesterday's Ecofin meeting in Madrid and instead chose to abstain from declaring its position.

As expected, the Belgians, who were looking for the inclusion of more restrictions on pension funds and their investments, remain the only member state not backing the directive.

In practice though, the Belgian stance has little bearing on the outcome of the directive which was passed by Ecofin earlier this month. Having refused to back it then, the delegation had until yesterday to change its mind.

Parliament will receive the directive in September for the secondary reading and to review the common position. If it is passed, as appears likely, the Belgian government will have to abide by it.

Prior to the agreement earlier this month, the French had held out for more quantitative investment restrictions but finally came around and agreed to the structure at the eleventh hour.

Since Ecofin passed it, the directive has been lambasted as ineffective in the absence of European tax harmonisation.

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