SWEDEN – Sweden’s highest court has upheld the European Court of Justice’s ruling in the so-called Skandia case, seen as a test case for pan-European occupational pensions.

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that it is incompatible with European Union law to deny immediate deduction for occupational pension premiums paid to insurance companies in other EU countries.

"This ruling is important for Skandia,” said Skandia's general counsel Jan-Mikael Bexhed. “The principles that it lays down will apply throughout the European Union. It entails that new, interesting business opportunities will be opened for Skandia over the long term."

The ruling means that the same tax rules will be applied regardless of whether an occupational pension plan is with a domestic insurance company or an insurance company in another EU country.

Life insurer Skandia said the court backed Skandia's position entirely and the ECJ’s ruling of June 2003 – when the ECJ rejected Sweden’s treatment of pension taxation in its final ruling in the case. The case had been brought by Skandia and its Swedish employee Ola Ramstedt.

They took on the Swedish government over the right for employers to claim tax deductions for premiums toward occupational pension plans sold by life assurance companies domiciled in another EU country.

Separately, Skandia said its first quarter sales rose 48% to 25.3 billion crowns.