Cross-border issues at inaugural opening conference ITEM

Citizens will soon be able to check how much pension they have accrued in other EU Member States

Maastricht University's Institute for Transnational and Euregional cooperation and Mobility (ITEM) is preparing for the introduction of a new online service that would allow citizens in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium to check how much pension they have accrued in another Member States. The project will start in 2016 and can be considered a pilot for the introduction of a similar system for all EU Member States. The preliminary phase, which includes just three countries, is necessary given the complexity of implementing an EU-wide system that is likely to take fifteen years to complete. This pilot will contribute to Track and Trace Your Pension (TTYPE), the European pension information system the EU is striving to implement. TTYPE and the new pilot are just two of the cross-border initiatives that will be discussed at the opening conference of ITEM on 30 and 31 October 2015 in Maastricht.

Pension across borders: black box

At the moment, it's not possible for, for instance, Dutch citizens to check how much pension they have accrued while working in Germany, Belgium or other EU countries. This is, however, possible in the Netherlands via and in Belgium via Germany is behind in this respect and does not yet have such a system for its citizens.

Service for growing group

In a couple of years citizens from all three pilot countries will be able to check how much pension they have accrued in these two other countries and what that means for their total pension amount. This new international service, integrated into a user-friendly system, is necessary given the growing group of high potentials, knowledge workers and cross-border employees. The Netherlands alone employed approximately 80,000 workers from other EU countries last year. In 2013, seven million EU residents (3.3% of the workforce) lived and worked in another Member State, 40,000 of which were Dutch employees. 'They will be able to use the new system to quickly and accurately determine whether there are any extras or errors in their old age pension and take timely measures to correct these,' says Anouk Bollen, director of ITEM and professor of Tax Law at Maastricht University.

Participating organisations

According to Bollen, citizens from the three participating countries (and later all Member States) will be given an overview of their accrued pension rights in the different countries as well as insight into and advice on additional pension rights they can accrue. What complicates the issue is that institutions like the Social Security Bank and pension funds need to work together, ideally with the collaboration of insurance companies that offer relevant policies. 'It's going to be a major undertaking to get all of these parties in the different Member States to cooperate. And it's going to take at least five more years for the pilot countries as well.'

ITEM conference

ITEM's two-day opening conference on 30 and 31 October will also cover other cross-border issues, such as diploma recognition, education and career mediation, social security, taxes and how to tackle serious cross-border criminality. More information about the programme and the speakers can be found here.


ITEM stands for the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility and is one of the projects in the Limburg Knowledge Axis. It is an initiative of Maastricht University, in collaboration with the Province of Limburg, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, NEIMED, the Municipality of Maastricht and the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. The institute has a capital of twenty million euros for the next ten years, with Maastricht University and the Province of Limburg as its main sponsors.

The institute aims to become the primary axis for research, consultancy and education with regard to cross-border collaboration, mobility, migration and labour market issues in Limburg. This cross-border collaboration has proven difficult to implement in practice due to cultural differences and current legislation and jurisdiction. ITEM hopes to remove any obstacles and facilitate increased mobility. 'ITEM was not only founded to carry out useful studies, but also to work on developing practical solutions,' according to Bollen.

Visit the ITEM website for more information.

Also read