The prospective new Dutch government – formed by the far-right PVV and centre-right VVD, NSC and BBB – will leave the new Dutch Pension Act, which came into force last year, untouched.

The new law mandates pension funds to move existing pensions from a defined benefit (DB) offering to a defined contribution (DC) system.

Especially the VVD, the only of the three parties that voted in favour of the new pension law in 2023, welcomed the news which came on Thursday as the prospective coalition parties presented their negotiations results.

“The future government is not going to change anything about the Pension Act. That is very good news,” commented Thierry Aartsen, the spokesperson for pensions for the VVD in parliament.

“The law is the law. I am glad the cabinet is not going to change it,” he added. Theoretically, it is possible for members of parliament (MPs) to initiate amendments to the law, but these must be serious legislation, he added, and not be limited to “tabling a motion or giving an interview”.

Aartsen doubts whether it would be a show of good governance to amend a law that has been in force for almost a year already, after extensive consideration in both the parliament and the Senate.

Good governance is one of the 10 key points in the coalition agreement, which also involves a stricter immigration policy and a softening of measures to fight climate change. Good governance includes “fulfilling agreements and a stable and predictable government policy”, according to the agreement.

Free issue

According to NSC MP Agnes Joseph, the former actuary turned politician who has been a fierce advocate introducing a mandatory ‘referendum’ about moving accruals from DB to DC, negotiators for the four political parties agreed that pensions are a “free issue” as no agreement about the future of the pension system could be reached between the four partners.

During the negotiations, there were “many proposals and phrases”, she said, but in the end the four parties agreed to disagree.

A Dutch magazine reported recently that the Dutch pension federation had offered additional investments in the Dutch economy by pension funds in exchange of leaving the pension law untouched.

While Joseph acknowledged this kind of proposal had indeed been made, she said it had been immediately dismissed. “Of course that just couldn’t happen. Pension funds are not supposed to buy legislation.”

Joseph said she has not given up hope of changing the pension law, but said it would take time for her to make any concrete proposals. First, a government has to be formed, and has to formulate concrete plans. “Depending on that, I will start determining our commitment, which will be in line with our election manifesto,” she said.

It therefore remains uncertain for the time being whether the Dutch pension sector will have to reckon with concrete, far-reaching proposals for change.

“I do understand that the sector would like clarity, but politics does not move that fast. I have noticed this myself when I worked in the sector over the past 15 years.”

Before moving into politics last year, Joseph worked as an actuary at Achmea Pensioenservices.

This article was first published on Pensioen Pro, IPE’s Dutch sister publication. It was translated and adapted for IPE by Tjibbe Hoekstra