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Netherlands: Rising Retirement Age

(May 22, 2012) It was reported on May 18, 2012, that, based on the 2012 budget agreement called the Spring Accord, reached three weeks ago by a coalition of five Dutch political parties, the retirement age in the Netherlands will rise by one-month increases in 2013 and 2014. This will be followed by two-month increases per year until the pensionable age becomes 66 in 2019; then in 2023 it will become 67. (Dutch Pensionable AgeWill Hit 67 in 2023, RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE (May 17, 2012); Gilbert Kreijger & Anthony Deutsch, Dutch Parties Avert Crisis with 2013 Budget Deal, REUTERS (Apr. 26, 2012); see also Wendy Zeldin, Netherlands: Retirement Age to Rise, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 7, 2009).)

The official retirement age in the Netherlands is currently 65. According to Statistics Netherlands, in 2011 the average age of retirement was over 63; between 2000 and 2006, workers on average retired at 61. (Leen Preesman, Statistics Netherlands Reveals Jump in Retirement Age for Dutch Workers, INVESTMENT & PENSIONS EUROPE (Jan. 17, 2012).)

The retirement provisions in the Spring Accord unravel the hard-fought agreement that the Cabinet had reached with the unions, which had provided for a retirement age of 66 in 2020, to reach 67 in 2025. In the view of Agnes Jongerius, chairperson of FNV, the largest Dutch union, “[i]t's even worse than we had originally thought. It's not only the rapidity of the rise of the pensionable age but the uncertainty this creates for people who have taken early retirement and those who have almost reached retirement age.” (Id.)

The lead article in almost all the Dutch newspapers on May 18 was on the 2013 budget, which “comprises a raft of reforms and cutbacks, and is designed to reduce the 2013 budget deficit to three percent of GDP, the limit set by the European Union.” (Dutch Press Review Friday 18 May 2012, RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE (May 18, 2012).) According to De Telegraaf, for example, the “drastic measures” will have the most impact on working people, and while the package earmarks €4 billion (about US$5.1 billion) to alleviate hardship, there will be “more than 12.2 billion euros of pain left.” (Id.) De Volkskrant, focusing on the political fallout of the Spring Accord, argues that the upcoming September 12 election “will be fought on the accord” and “will see a whole new balance of power in Dutch politics.” (Id.) The final 2013 budget will be presented one week after the elections. (Robin van Daalen & Vanessa Mock, UPDATE: Dutch Agree in Principle on 2013 Budget; Hurdles Remain, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Apr. 26, 2012).)