7 June 2023

The new pension agreement: still not a done deal

By Prof. Hans van Meerten

There is a long history of plans for a new pension system. We can even go back to the 1990s when it was said at a pension meeting that ‘friend and foe’ agree that the system needs reform.

The Future Pensions Act (Wet Toekomst Pensioenen, WTP)

At the time of writing it is 2023. By now, the new pension law (WTP) has been adopted by the Lower House. But the WTP is far from a done deal.

The WTP has a number of objectives. The system is intended to be more responsive to the labour market, simpler, and more affordable. In other words: future-proof.

It is currently crystal clear, however, that these objectives will not be met. In short, we are initiating a mega financial operation, with huge consequences for participants who are often financially dependent on their pension, while independent experts are issuing warning after warning. This is leaving aside any legal concerns.

It is now the turn of the Upper House. And this does not seem like it will be a ‘piece of cake’ either. There will again be a variety of technical briefings, expert meetings and written question rounds. Yours truly will be happy to contribute to this again, as in previous times.

This process is expected to take quite some time. Of course, careful debate is appropriate for the Upper House. But if debate of the WTP cannot be completed around and near the provincial council elections (15 March 2023), the situation will become tenuous – at least from the government’s point of view. This is because the key question then is whether the current coalition still has the majority needed for approval in the Upper House.

Another laborious development

Another development that means the WTP is not yet a done deal is the legislation regarding the ability to withdraw a pension lump sum. This has been postponed yet again. It was scheduled to come into force in 2021. If such a relatively simple change is already so laborious….

The ‘lump sum payment’ law had already been passed by the Upper House in early 2021, but on the condition that implementation be delayed. Upper House had questions about feasibility and this needed to be addressed. And that has still not happened.

The same danger is lurking here. Several consultants have indicated that they see feasibility problems here as well. In the meantime, many pension funds and administrators are busy converting ‘old’ rights into the new system.

But some pension funds have recently indicated they will stop doing so: the legislation is unclear and there are the implementation problems mentioned earlier.

The new pension agreement and pension funds

In my opinion, the fact that people are drawing a line under the initial ‘conversion plans’ is more than justified: as a pension fund, you are initiating a course of action, but no one knows whether it is legally tenable and what exactly the law will be. For example, perhaps there will be a carve-out in the Upper House for certain groups.

“We’ve been talking for so long,” is what the government and the polder are saying, “now it’s got to be done”.

Indeed. We have been talking for a long time. Numerous reports and analyses have also been commissioned by the government. But what have we actually been talking about all these years? Because we are not getting a real future-proof system. How can we achieve this? Perhaps this could serve as inspiration?

Meanwhile, there are all sorts of reports that ‘Brussels insists’ the WTP must be implemented. It is often not mentioned that the Netherlands itself set that condition to get funds from the EU, so there is no such thing as ‘Brussels insists’.

Would you like more information on the new pension agreement?

GMW pension attorneys mr. K. Vermeulen and Prof. dr. H. van Meerten conduct various proceedings against the state and pension funds. Are you interested in GMW’s pension solutions? Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Prof. Hans van Meerten

Prof. Hans van Meerten


Professor Hans van Meerten is a specialist in the field of pension law, financial law and EU law.

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