Dec 18, 2018 - 4:15pm

An ERISA-style Law for the EU?


Former Executive Director, Retirement Policy

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The European Union flag outside the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium.
The European Union flag outside the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium.

The United States is facing a number of retirement challenges—a multiemployer pension plan crisis and attempts to expand retirement options for small businesses. However, there is one area of the private retirement system that is not just working but also envied globally—the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides one uniform law throughout the country. Therefore, employers who operate in different states can provide the same retirement plan for all of their employees. Moreover, employees receive the same protections regardless of where they live or work. Now there is an effort to bring an ERISA-style law to the European Union.

The Cross Border Benefits Alliance-Europe is leading the charge in this effort and held its second annual conference to discuss possibilities for implementing a similar law in the EU. The EU has started down this path with directives from the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP), which allow for cross border pension plans, which are run by third parties.  Following the IORP directives provides a cheaper option than a company providing its own plan but still requires significant expense in both time and resources. In addition, the IORP system still requires cross-border approvals for legal implementation, which require time and effort. Therefore, having a law in place could remove many of these financial and administrative barriers.

Consequently, for businesses that operate in different European countries, implementing a uniform standard for private retirement plans could substantially ease ‎administrative burdens and increase retirement coverage. As such, the EU should follow in the footsteps of the U.S. and create an ERISA-style law to promote retirement savings for businesses and workers operating across European borders.

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About the Author

About the Author

Former Executive Director, Retirement Policy

Aliya Wong was the Executive Director of Retirement Policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce.