‘Prinsjesdag 2021’ – traditionally the day on which the Dutch monarch addresses the States-General of the Netherlands and the state budget is presented to the House of Representatives – won’t go down as revolutionary in terms of policy choices or new budget measures. The government’s caretaker status means the budget is void of new policies, and instead focuses on the implementation of current policy. So, not many surprises in that respect or in terms of pensions – everything still revolves around preparations for the new system.
This year’s Prinsjesdag was overshadowed by the impasse in The Hague. But this isn’t necessarily detrimental to the new pension system, says strategic policy officer at APG, Nick van de Sande, who has worked together with his team to produce an annual preliminary analysis of the Prinsjesdag documents. “In terms of progress on the pension system, this caretaker status does provide a little more certainty. After all, a new government and a new Minister of Social Affairs and Employment would still need to come out with the focal points of their policy. Although Minister Koolmees’s leadership should effectively feed that drive to successfully conclude the matter, it’s good to remember that efforts had already been made to galvanize broad political support. There’s an awareness that several changes of government are needed before the new contract can be implemented.”
Future Pensions Act
With the current government still in its caretaker position, this year’s Prinsjesdag offered no surprises, says Van de Sande. “The government reiterated that the commitments in the pension agreement and the standardization of the surviving dependents’ pension [surviving dependents’ pension will always be on a risk basis in the accrual phase from now on, ed.] are expected to be submitted to the House of Representatives in early 2022.” The plans for the new system are currently set out in a new bill, the wet toekomst pensioenen (Future Pensions Act), which should enter into force on January 1, 2023.
Transfer of accrued benefits
Sustainable employability will also be promoted. This will make it possible, between 2021 and 2025, for employers to offer an ‘Early Retirement Scheme (RVU, ‘Regeling voor vervroegde uittreding’) to employees retiring early, without paying tax. The Prinsjesdag documents also mentioned the aim to enable pension providers to automatically transfer all types of small pensions from January 1, 2022. In other words, small amounts of pension accrued at other funds would automatically be added to your current pension. “If automatic transfer of accrued benefits isn’t possible, it should be possible to commute these ‘small pensions’,” explains Van de Sande. In addition, the agenda sets out that the law on pension distribution in the event of divorce or separation should enter into force on January 1, 2022. This means that the retirement pension accrued during a marriage or registered partnership would be distributed between both partners, regardless of the marital property regime. “Obviously, further parliamentary developments will determine whether that schedule will be met.”