De Jong: reject plan for EU meddling in pensions

15 February 2011

De Jong: reject plan for EU meddling in pensions

SP-Euro-MP Dennis de Jong is critical of the parliamentary report on pensions prepared by Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen. In De Jong’s view the report gives the impression that it is calling for binding European agreements on the pensions systems of the member states. 'The report argues for a raising of the pensionable age, which is a purely national matter,’ he says. ‘In the Netherlands it’s absolutely unnecessary – we have no need for any regulation from Brussels in this policy area.’

Dennis de JongAs a member of the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee Dennis de Jong wrote an official ‘Opinion’ on the future of the pensions sector which received almost unanimous support. The Opinion proposed that agreements regarding coordination be made between the member states, but that national authorities retain ultimate responsibility for their pensions systems. The new report wants to see matters taken further and the pensions systems incorporated into the European Stability and Growth Pact and included in the future in plans for European Economic Governance. As De Jong says, “This would undoubtedly lead to binding agreements and possibly even sanctions. Nobody in the Netherlands wants to see that.”

The SP recognises, moreover, that major differences exist between the member states’ pensions systems. The Dutch system is unique – other member states have no accumulated capital for pension provision and could face problems in the future, with systems which prove to be unsustainable. The question, however, is whether making European pension systems more uniform would solve these problems. As De Jong points out, “the opposite could occur, and our robust system could come under pressure from weaker systems. That’s why I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow Brussels a say in decision-making on this issue. It’s sufficient if the member states inform and advise each other.” He suggests that the EU could make itself useful not in this way, but by establishing a system under which up-to-the-minute records covering the whole of Europe could be maintained allowing workers to see immediately how much they have accumulated in pension entitlements.

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