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Safeguarding supplementary pension rights

This Directive is intended to remove obstacles to the free movement of employed and self-employed persons, while safeguarding their supplementary pension * rights when moving from one Member State to another. This protection concerns both voluntary and compulsory pension schemes *, with the exception of social security schemes covered by Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.


Council Directive 98/49/EC of 29 June 1998 on safeguarding the supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the Community.


This Directive applies to members of supplementary pension schemes and others holding entitlement under such schemes who have acquired or are in the process of acquiring rights in one or more Member States.

This Directive provides for four main measures to safeguard the supplementary pension rights of workers moving within the Community:

Equality of treatment as regards preservation of pension rights

Member States must, for persons who have left a supplementary pension scheme as a consequence of going to work in another Member State, take the necessary measures to ensure the preservation of vested pension rights to the same extent as for persons in respect of whom contributions are no longer being made but who remain within the same Member State.

Cross-border payments

Member States shall ensure that supplementary pension schemes make payment in other Member States, net of any taxes and transaction charges, of all benefits due under these supplementary schemes.

Posted workers and supplementary pensions

Posted workers have the option of remaining within the pension scheme in their country of origin during the period of posting in another Member State. Posted workers and, where applicable, their employers are thus exempted from any obligation to make contributions to a supplementary pension scheme in another Member State.

Information to scheme members

Employers, trustees or others responsible for the management of supplementary pension schemes shall provide adequate information to scheme members, when they move to another Member State, as to their pension rights and the choices which are available to them under the scheme.


While coordination of social security schemes allows migrant workers to fully preserve their accrued statutory pension rights, the portability of supplementary pensions (both occupational schemes and group insurance contracts) still needs to be improved.

In a Communication in 1991, the Commission opened the debate on supplementary pensions and gave a high-level group the task of identifying obstacles to the free movement of workers. The group concluded that legislative measures were needed but that these should be restricted to the following three areas:

  • preservation of vested rights;
  • cross-border payments;
  • easier access for posted workers.

The Commission continued the discussions with all bodies involved in relation to the Green Paper on supplementary pensions published in June 1997 and confirmed the need for an act covering the aspects set out in this Directive.

Key terms used in the act
  • 'Supplementary pension' means retirement pensions and, where provided for by the rules of a supplementary pension scheme established in conformity with national legislation and practice, invalidity and survivors' benefits, intended to supplement or replace those provided in respect of the same contingencies by statutory social security schemes.
  • 'Supplementary pension scheme' means any occupational pension scheme established in conformity with national legislation and practice such as a group insurance contract or pay-as-you-go scheme agreed by one or more branches or sectors, funded scheme or pension promise backed by book reserves, or any collective or other comparable arrangement intended to provide a supplementary pension for employed or self-employed persons.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 98/49/EC


25.5.2001 Article 6

OJ L 209 of 25.7.1998


Green Paper of 7 July 2010 towards adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems [COM(2010) 365 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Amended proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility by improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights [COM(2007) 603 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 04.02.2011
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