For members


Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

Have you ever wondered what to do with your private pension plan when moving to another European country?

Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you're moving country
Flags of the EU member states flutter in the air near a statue of the Euro logo outside the European Commission building in Brussels, on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

This question will probably have caused some headaches. Fortunately a new private pension product meant to make things easier should soon become available under a new EU regulation that came into effect this week. 

The new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) will allow savers to take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.

EU rules so far allowed the aggregation of state pensions and the possibility to carry across borders occupational pensions, which are paid by employers. But the market of private pensions remained fragmented.

The new product is expected to benefit especially young people, who tend to move more frequently across borders, and the self-employed, who might not be covered by other pension schemes. 

According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by Insurance Europe, the organisation representing insurers in Brussels, 38 percent of Europeans do not save for retirement, with a proportion as high as 60 percent in Finland, 57 percent in Spain, 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Italy. 

The groups least likely to have a pension plan are women (42% versus 34% of men), unemployed people (67%), self-employed and part-time workers in the private sector (38%), divorced and singles (44% and 43% respectively), and 18-35 year olds (40%).

“As a complement to public pensions, PEPP caters for the needs of today’s younger generation and allows people to better plan and make provisions for the future,” EU Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness said on March 22nd, when new EU rules came into effect. 

The scheme will also allow savers to sign up to a personal pension plan offered by a provider based in another EU country.

Who can sign up?

Under the EU regulation, anyone can sign up to a pan-European personal pension, regardless of their nationality or employment status. 

The scheme is open to people who are employed part-time or full-time, self-employed, in any form of “modern employment”, unemployed or in education. 

The condition is that they are resident in a country of the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area). The PEPP will not be available outside these countries, for instance in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

PEPP providers can offer a maximum of six investment options, including a basic one that is low-risk and safeguards the amount invested. The basic PEPP is the default option. Its fees are capped at 1 percent of the accumulated capital per year.

People who move to another EU country can continue to contribute to the same PEPP. Whenever a consumer changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge.  

As pension products are taxed differently in each state, the applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence and possible tax incentives will only apply to the relevant sub-account. 

Savers who move residence outside the EU cannot continue saving on their PEPP, but they can resume contributions if they return. They would also need to ask advice about the consequences of the move on the way their savings are taxed. 

Pensions can then be paid out in a different location from where the product was purchased. 

Where to start?

Pan-European personal pension products can be offered by authorised banks, insurance companies, pension funds and wealth management firms. 

They are regulated products that can be sold to consumers only after being approved by supervisory authorities. 

As the legislation came into effect this week, only now eligible providers can submit the application for the authorisation of their products. National authorities have then three months to make a decision. So it will still take some time before PEPPs become available on the market. 

When this will happen, the products and their features will be listed in the public register of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). 

For more information: 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK. 

Member comments

  1. The cap of 1% fees is welcome but frankly way too high. If you compare to the fees charged by Vanguard or Fidelity in the US you can see how even 1% over the savings lifetime of 30-40 years is a real gouge. This is plain vanilla arithmetic. I have a managed individual retirement account at Vanguard in the US that charges me .16%. And note that is a managed fund. The purer index funds, which simply track the whole market whether bonds or shares, are even less costly.

  2. I have been paid a complementary pension by Agirc-Arrco ( after much difficulty trying to claim it during the pandemic). I received it ( I thought ) under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement ( financial section) which states that a person should not be worse off re their financial situation ( french complementary pension) after Brexit. Although I lived and worked in France for
    Ten years and accumulated many points in the scheme…for which I have been paid monthly…now they have blocked my
    account due to completely ambiguous wording of the INFO RETRAITE formulaire which I used for instructions in sending my certificat de Vie. I am 68 years old and worked hard years to accumulate this pension….who to speak to ? I am hoping that the French state part of my pension will be paid as usual as that account isn’t blocked. Any help appreciated.

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For members


Where in Germany are housing costs for students rising the most (and least)?

The German housing market is becoming increasingly pricier for students, according to the Student Housing Report 2023, which the financial services provider MLP published together with the Institute for German Economy on Thursday.

Where in Germany are housing costs for students rising the most (and least)?

Rental market data up until August 2023 was analysed for this report, which found that rents for both student flats and shared flats have continued to rise at all 38 university locations surveyed.

Prices on average went up six percent as compared to 2022. 

Rental prices rose the most in Heidelberg, at eight percent, followed by Oldenburg and Berlin with 6.8 and 6.4 percent respectively. The lowest price increase was in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, where it was only one percent. 

In 2021, prices began to dip in several cities amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but this effect is long gone, wrote the reports’ authors.

READ ALSO: An international students guide to the top 10 German universities

What accounts for the price increases?

A core reason for the rising prices is the shrinking supply of housing coupled with rising demand in many places, according to the report. 

Only in Chemnitz were more flats and shared flats advertised last year than in previous years, while in all other university cities the number declined.

With the energy crisis, ancillary housing costs (Nebenkosten) have also risen sharply. On average, heating bills have risen by 43 percent since the beginning of 2022. 

According to the evaluation, students in Tübingen pay the most for heating, at €2 per square metre, followed closely by Dresden and Munich. The lowest heating costs were in Chemnitz with €1.20 and in Mannheim with €1.30 per square metre.

A view of the historic university town of Heidelberg from the Neckar

A view of the historic university town of Heidelberg from the Neckar. Photo by Mateo Krössler on Unsplash

Comparing Munich and Frankfurt

In order to better compare cities with each other, the Student Housing Report also calculates hypothetical “model flats” (Musterwohnungen) for students. This is based on looking at the presumed costs of flats of the same size, with the same facilities and in the same location. The only difference is the city in which the apartment is located.

The sample flat has a living space of 30 square metres, is located on the second floor in a building from between 2000-2010 and is in the immediate vicinity of a university. 

At just under €700 per month, the most expensive model flats were in Munich and Frankfurt. These cities were followed by Stuttgart, Bonn, Darmstadt, Freiburg and Nuremberg. 

READ ALSO: The German regions where house prices have doubled in six years

The eastern cities of Chemnitz and Magdeburg are particularly cheap at less than €300 per month. But western German cities like Bochum, Bielefeld and Saarbrücken are also comparatively cheap.

According to the report, students could only find a flat larger than 40 square metres for a maximum of €360 – or what they receive for the the Bafög (financial aid) housing cost supplement – at four university locations, namely in Rostock, Dresden, Magdeburg and Chemnitz. However, this figure doesn’t take ancillary costs into account.

These financial burdens could also influence the question of whether young people should start studying at all, says Uwe Schroeder-Wildberg, Chief Executive Officer of MLP. He added that Germany “can’t afford not to make full use of its academic potential”