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Pan-European pension fund for researchers gains first supporters

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A consortium of sponsors will be formed this autumn to prepare the way for the creation of a pan-European pension fund for researchers, according to Paul Jankowitsch, chairman of the task force for the IORP.

He told IPE that interest was high and that “several very notable institutions” had already pledged their support for the project.

“Currently, we as a task force are providing around 150 organisations, including universities and research facilities, with details on the project,” Jankowitsch said.

The proposed scheme is not without its critics, however.

EAPSPI, the voice of public pensions at the European level, as well as ESIP, the European Social Insurance Platform, have been sceptical of proposals for a Retirement Savings Vehicle for European Research Institutions (Resaver).

They fear the scheme could eventually also include the first pillar and “create privileges” other groups of mobile workers would have to be granted as well.

But Théodore Economou, CIO at the CERN pension fund, has called on all stakeholders to “study details of the vehicle once it is in place, before forming an opinion”.

He added: “It is clear that, in 27 countries, some will participate and some not. But the vehicle will be open to those institutions that want to further research on a European level.”

Economou said he was convinced the IORP would “facilitate the growth of Europe’s intellectual capital” – although he stressed his additional position as secretary of the Resaver task force was separate from his role at CERN and “did not necessarily mean” the Swiss research institute would join it.

Another champion of the Resaver scheme includes Bill Stirling, who came out of retirement in 2013 to become director of the French Institut Laue-Langevin.

Even before details of the fund were negotiated, he was “enthusiastic” about plans to create an IORP for researchers.

“This scheme could be a very positive step towards helping with the very necessary mobility of researchers within Europe,” he told IPE.

He himself has worked in Germany, France and the UK in various organisations and describes his own pension situation as “quite simply a mess”.

Stirling is convinced a pan-European pension fund would help institutions to attract more “bright young scientists”, who today can be “very difficult to tempt from a safe university or lab position in their home country”.

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