NETHERLANDS - VB, OPF and UvB, the Dutch pension fund lobbying organisations, have agreed to intensify their cooperation - a move which may result in the creation of a "federation".

"The cooperation is aimed at enhancing the organisations' lobbying impact, both nationally and internationally," said the Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds, the Foundation of Company Pension Funds and the Union of Occupations Pensions Funds, in a joint statement this morning.

The three organisations represent approximately 450 pension funds, which between them serve 5.7m workers, 7.3m deferred participants and 1.8m pensioners in total. Their combined invested assets were over €700bn at the end of 2007.

The pension funds' umbrellas have been working together for some time by issuing joint position papers and press releases on, for example, the new Pension Act, the new government's coalition agreement and social responsible investment.

But VB, OPF and UvB have now agreed to operate jointly for a year on all files that come along and based on this experience a decision will then be drawn next year about a possible extension of this agreement.

"The aim in principle is to set up a federation, which allows for a joint representation on main issues, while the individual members still keep the option to lobby for their specific interests," said Alfred Kool, spokesman for the collective.

According to Kool, the main consideration for closer cooperation between the umbrellas is the increased international challenge following EU legislation.

"Together we are better positioned to communicate the message to civilians and politicians, and both nationally and internationally, that the collective products of pension funds benefit the individual," explained Willem Noortman, employees' chairman at VB.

"The fact that each umbrella has its own ‘colour' doesn't hamper a joint approach. We support an efficient and effective implementation of pensions, which can be significantly improved through cooperation," added Loek Sibbing , OPF chairman.

According to UvB chair Bert van Kuijck, the interests of the umbrellas' supporters are very similar.

"There are therefore more binding than separating elements between us, so joining forces is a logical option," he commented.

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