AGE welcomes the Commission's proposal as laid down in the draft directive on "improving the portability of supplementary pension rights" and considers this as an instrument, which has the potential to improve labour mobility within the EU and, more importantly, as an improvement of the conditions for acquiring adequate retirement benefits.
In particular, improving the accessibility to supplementary pension rights, guaranteeing the right to transfer pension rights, better protecting "dormant" pension rights and providing workers with adequate information are essential to achieve the objectives of the draft directive. In line with the principle of subsidiarity, the draft Directive rightly puts the responsibility to achieve portability of supplementary pensions mainly with the Member States, national social partners and other relevant stakeholder such as older people's organisations. They need to make clear choices about a number issues, discussed in this AGE position statement.
The situation concerning "portability of supplementary pension rights" differs widely between Member States. Some Member States have already developed a more or less adequate framework to achieve the objectives (e.g. the Netherlands, where the proposals add little to the existing framework), while improvements are strongly needed in other Member States. Thus, the impact of this Directive will differ widely between individual Member States, which indeed justifies transition periods for certain cases.
However, AGE members have doubts whether the proposals are sufficient to meet the objectives of enhanced labour mobility and improved acquisition of retirement benefits. Cross-border transfer of pension rights is fraught with difficulties because of differential tax treatment of pension contributions/benefits and of pension capital transfers as well as the use of different actuarial factors across the EU Member States.
The objective of enhanced labour mobility may, furthermore, be difficult to achieve because of the possible exemption of transferability of pension rights for pay-as-you-go schemes, support relief funds and book reserves schemes (article 9.3) where full integration into a EU- wide system of transferability may last beyond 2018. AGE feels that these issues are not solved by the proposals in the draft directive. Stricter conditions should be applied in order to ensure a swifter realisation by the Member States of the principle of portability of pension rights.
AGE recognizes that improved acquisition rights and protection of "dormant" pension rights may have strong financial implications in certain countries. However, the protection of such rights is essential to achieve the objectives mentioned above.