Brussels, 9 October 2007
The Commission adopted today an amended proposal to reduce obstacles to workers' mobility through improved access and better preservation of supplementary pension rights. The proposal takes on the majority of the European Parliament's amendments from last June. It focuses on the setting of minimum requirements for better access to pension rights, clearer rights of preservation so mobile workers' pensions are treated fairly, and improved access to useful and timely information. Its aim is to ensure that workers are not penalised because of mobility.
Commenting on the proposal Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities said "The amended text highlights the determination of the Parliament, the Council and the Commission to break down the barriers to workers' mobility in Europe."
The proposal follows the lead of Parliament by focusing on the key issues of easier access for workers to supplementary pensions and more clearly defined measures for the appropriate treatment of dormant pension rights of mobile workers. Ensuring ongoing sustainability is also reflected in the Commission’s acceptance of Parliament’s wish to give schemes more time to accommodate new requirements.
Mr Špida acknowledged the progress made, underlining that "achieving the right balance between reducing obstacles to mobility, while maintaining a stable and sustainable environment for the development of supplementary pension provision is one of Europe's greatest challenges." He added "enabling workers to move freely around the EU and national labour markets without losing important occupational pension benefits is a clear example of “flexicurity” in action. The urgency of improving workers' rights is why I was ready to accept a compromise on the issue of the transfer of supplementary rights, as well as the exclusion from the Directive of pension schemes that are already closed to new members. It is important that we take this significant step now, and not risk further delay by trying to achieve all our objectives at once."
Provisions relating to transfers are therefore not present in the proposal. The Commission recognises the view of many that, at this time, measures for the transfer of supplementary rights are a step too far.
The title of the proposal has been amended to « Proposal for a
directive on the minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility by improving
the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights ».
The next steps will be for the amended proposal to be taken forward by the
Portuguese Presidency to seek unanimity in Council, and then agreement with the
European Parliament in second reading. As set out in the proposal the Commission
will re-examine the issues relating to transfers in the first of its reports to
be produced five years after the Directive’s entry into force.