EU workers to enjoy fully portable pension rights when moving abroad 

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EU workers moving to a different EU country will be able to take their full pension rights with them thanks to a draft law passed by Parliament on Tuesday. It still needs to be formally approved by the Council of Ministers.

"The text represents a genuine improvement for many workers. It is a big step forwards for the free movement of workers and a boost for a social Europe", said rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP, NL), adding that "a good pension is a necessity, now that Europeans can expect to live much longer."

Full pension rights

Current EU rules ensure that workers moving to another EU country do not lose their statutory pension rights, i.e. those provided by the state.

However, no such EU-wide rules exist for supplementary pension schemes, financed or co-financed by employers. So people who move between member states risk losing entitlements built up over a period that is not deemed long enough by the state to which they move.

Three years at most to qualify

Under the new legislation, the "vesting period", i.e. the period of active membership of a scheme needed for a person to keep supplementary pension entitlements, must not exceed three years.

MEPs inserted a clause stipulating that cross-border workers must also benefit from the same level of protection under the directive, which member states will have four years to put into effect.

Next steps


The legislation now needs to be formally approved by the Council of Ministers



The draft text was tabled by the European Commission in 2005 and revised in 2007. Parliament’s first reading took place in 2007. The legislation was then blocked in the Council for six years, due to differences among member states' pension schemes and the unanimous vote requirement. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty meant the text could be put to a qualified majority vote, enabling negotiations to resume. These negotiations led to the agreement between Parliament and Member States approved by MEPs on Tuesday.

Procedure:  Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), second reading agreement