Swedish politicians postpone next step of controversial pension reform

The planned reform of the Swedish pension system is now set to be postponed. After harsh criticism from several players, Swedish MPs don't want to make hasty decisions.
Katarina Brännström, member of parliament from the liberal-conservative party Moderaterna, sees no reason to rush the pension reform. | Photo: PR/Moderaterna
Katarina Brännström, member of parliament from the liberal-conservative party Moderaterna, sees no reason to rush the pension reform. | Photo: PR/Moderaterna

The planned reform of the Swedish premium pension system (PPM) may be postponed for at least another year as influential voices in the country's parliament, the Riksdag, refuse to rush new changes, Dagens Industri reports.

Freedom of choice must remain in place and the Seventh Swedish National Pension Fund should not have increased power, according to nonsocialist members.

When it comes to large pension decisions, the pension group, which includes representatives from the majority of parliamentary parties, must agree. Therefore, major new changes to the premium pension will not be in place by the end of next year.

"The starting point is to get the best strong and sustainable pensions possible. Then there is no reason to rush through any proposal where there is strong criticism," says Katarina Brännström, who is a member of parliament from the liberal-conservative party Moderaterna and member of the pension group.

Criticism from several stakeholders

The current reform proposal has been met with criticism from several stakeholders, including the Swedish Competition Authority, Konkurrensverket, which found that the proposal may be contrary to EU procurement rules.

"It is extremely important that we do this right. When it comes to the law, there are uncertainties, for example, about EU procurement rules. Several referral bodies gave tough criticism, and we need to look deeper at that," Brännström says.

"The government wants to move forward, but we want to do it wisely and in the right order," she adds.

Through the PPM, Swedes can either have their public pension savings managed by the national AP7 fund's balanced Såfa product or choose between funds available at the Swedish fund platform Fondtorget.

The reform proposal suggests directing more savers to AP7 Såfa and reducing the number of funds at Fondtorget, and as reported by AMWatch, some fear that this could threaten both SME growth and corona recovery.

"PPM is an important part of the pension system, where we Swedes can benefit from the return on the capital market. The proposal for AP7 is completely the wrong way to go, there must be no suspicion that freedom of choice and competition is being restricted," Mats Persson from the liberal party, Liberalerna, and member of the pension group told Dagens Industri.

Too much power to AP7

The center party's (Centerpartiet's) member of the pension group, Solveig Zander, does not believe that the new and reduced version of Fondtorget will be launched in January as previously planned.

"It will be postponed, I am absolutely convinced of that," Zander told the newsletter Pensionsnyheterna.

She also shares the criticism that AP7 is given too much power in the new proposal. Zander would rather see a board authority under the Swedish Pensions Agency, she told the newsletter.

According to Dagens Industri, several members of the pension group point out that the PPM works well now that tougher regulations – which were implemented after a series of scandals involving some Fondtorget funds – from the Pension Authority have taken effect. In the long term, however, the issue of a procured fund market should be put on the table.

"Of course, we want to control the system so that there is good control. At the same time, we defend freedom of choice – there must not be a return to nationalization," Katarina Brännström told Dagens Industri.

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