What developments will we see this year as far as the Dutch pension agreement is concerned? And what happened in this regard last year? Peter Gortzak, Director of the Implementation Policy at APG, is anxious to see whether the House of Representatives will be presenting sweeping changes to the pension agreement in the coming months.
2021 was an important year for the pension agreement in the Dutch polder. "There has been a lot of work behind the scenes by steering committees and others on legislative texts for the new pension system," Gortzak says. "Those legal texts were never intended for the public, so the Council of State (RvS) could issue an opinion on them without outside pressure. This has been achieved and the Council of State is now looking at the texts. If the schedule is met, the House of Representatives will be able to deliberate on them as of April.”
Whereas last year was marked by behind-the-scenes meetings on legislative texts, this year those texts are coming out into the open. This means that a number of issues are becoming quite suspenseful. For example, there is the question of whether the government will succeed in placing the final legislative text in the Staatsblad in January of 2023, after it has been discussed in parliament. In the coming period, the opinions of the Council of State and APG, among others, will become known and thus part of the public debate.
Gortzak: “There are still adjustments to be made to the legislative text, such as the way in which the survivor's pension will be entered and the calculation methodology to be applied. And also the wording of the lower regulations, without which the legislative proposals cannot be properly assessed. On the other hand, there is also the fear of proposals for amendment being too easy and populist-based. It is extremely complicated legislation and there are only a handful of people who have the full overview. As a result, a member of parliament may single out issues that seem easy and lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, one of the principles of the pension agreement was that pensions should be easier to explain. But the House of Representatives will soon see that the right of citizens to object to pensions has been scrapped. That is easy to explain, but it obviously feels like a right that is being taken away. All in all, it's going to be interesting to see whether MPs come up with far-reaching changes and whether the explainability of the subject of pensions will receive sufficient attention.”
Gortzak believes that another important topic this year will be the importance of the implementability of legislation. “The last two years there has been an awful lot of attention on implementing bodies such as the UWV, the SVB and especially the Tax Authority. According to the general opinion, politics has paid too little attention to the consequences of complex legislation. I hope that members of parliament have learned from previous excesses and, when assessing the new pension act, also take into account the feasibility of everything they think up. This is something we at APG would really like to warn against. Because even though a lot of hard work has been done on legislation behind the scenes, in my opinion the implementation problems have not yet been looked at properly. That is a particular concern. It is really important that members of parliament, in the event of any changes to the legislative text, ask themselves how it will affect the implementability of the new pension system.”