The German fund industry association BVI believes that this year’s pensions reform process laid out with the support of experts and stakeholders can realistically lead to changes in the third pillar system (private pensions).

“I see the window for a reform this year. I was surprised how clearly and how optimistically views are that [a reform] will be done in 2024. Who knows where the next window will be – 2029,” said Kai Schulze, head of BVI’s Berlin office, yesterday during an event on more flexible payouts for private pensions organised by the association.

The topic of pension brings with it “very emotional” discussions to the public, with decisions on pension reforms taken normally at the end of a legislative period, not at the beginning, Schulze said.

“This is why this is the year where we optimistically want to work with politicians – we are ready for all [kinds of] talks,” he added.

The member of parliament (MP) for the Greens, Stefan Schmidt, said that the recommendations for a third pillar pension system reform laid out by the focus group (Fokusgruppe Altersvorsorge) last summer are not what the party had envisioned for a change.

The majority of the focus group, in fact, rejected the public fund – what the Greens called in its electoral programme ‘Bürgerfonds für die Rente’.

There is an intention to start a reform, said Schmidt, meaning that the governing coalition parties – Greens, Social Democrats (SPD) and the Liberal Party (FDP) – could agree on the recommendations of the focus group without sticking closely to their demands and veto proposals.

“It won’t be the Green Party, the SPD or the FDP party programme, but a compromise that should be accepted by the wider public and parliament. The need for reform is too great,” Schmidt said.

The recommendations of the focus group have been “evaluated very positively” within the SPD parliamentary group, said Frauke Heiligenstadt, social democrat MP.

The coalition partners will discuss the questions of flexibility of the guarantees and flexible payouts in the third pillar, and decide together on a plan to design a legal framework, she added.

Anja Schultz, MP for FDP, is in favour of a compromise for a reform that is “very close” to the recommendations of the focus group, flexible payouts and loosening guarantees.

The government plans to draft a law to be adopted in 2024 following proposals of the Fokusgruppe Altersvorsorge.

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