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Proposed pan-European pension fund for researchers hits roadblock

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The European Commission’s plans to set up a pan-European pension fund for researchers have hit a roadblock after representatives of would-be future members rejected the proposal.

A new cooperation agreement on the issue was signed at a recent pension tracking conference organised by the Find Your Pension (FYP) initiative launched by German public pension fund VBL for mobile researchers in and from Germany. 

EAPSPI, the voice of public pensions at the European level, as well as ESIP, the European Social Insurance Platform, agreed to support the FYP initiative and promote it among public sector researchers.

However, in their declaration, they also rejected plans to set up a pan-European pension fund for researchers.

“Old-age pension provision is embedded in the overall design of the single welfare states, and [researchers] work environment cannot be isolated from other social benefits and advantages,” they said.

In January, a task force put together a report in support of the creation of a pan-European fund for researchers. 

And Andreas Dahlén, policy officer at the European Union, confirmed to IPE that the European Commission has decided to support the task force in creating what is to be called the Retirement Savings Vehicle for European Research Institutions (RESAVER).

But Wolfgang Schulz-Weidner, representing ESIP, confirmed his group feared a pan-European pension fund for researchers would eventually also include the first pillar and create privileges that other groups of mobile workers would have to be granted as well.

If certain groups of workers were taken out of the first pillar, this would “weaken the element of solidarity in retirement provision and reduce it to a financial market product”, he said.

EAPSPI, too, rejected what it called a “29th system” in Europe for retirement provision.

Secretary general Eva Kiwit told IPE: “EAPSPI is not supporting the creation of a pan-European pension fund because we do not think it is necessary.”

She added that researchers were already covered under the existing system and said what was needed was more education and information on the subject, as well as on existing entitlements.

However, in its findings, the RESAVER task force pointed out the fund would “not necessarily replace existing plans but rather ‘fill in the gaps’”.

For the vehicle – which is to be set up as a separate IORP rather than a multi-employer vehicle – the task force has recommended a Belgium OFP.

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