More Swedes favour euro over krona: poll

A majority of Swedes would favour switching from the krona to the euro if a referendum on whether Sweden should adopt the common European currency were held today, a new poll shows.

More Swedes favour euro over krona: poll

According to a poll from Statistics Sweden (SCB), 44 percent of Swedes would vote yes to the euro, while 42 percent indicated they would vote no.

The results mark the first time since Sweden’s 2003 referendum on the euro that a majority of Swedes favour ditching the krona.

“It’s a little surprising,” said SEB bank currency analyst Carl Hammar, to the TT news agency.

Historically, Swedish support for the euro increases when the krona depreciates. But during much of 2009, the Swedish currency has strengthened relative to other currencies, albeit from rather low levels.

And the Swedish economic crisis would have likely been worse if Sweden had been part of the eurozone.

“We’ve been helped enormously by the krona being relatively weak,” said Hammer.

Around 14 percent of respondents indicated they were undecided about how they would vote in a referendum on the euro, however, and the 2 percent advantage for the pro-euro camp isn’t statistically significant.

Major differences also remain between the level of support for the euro among men and women.

Among men, 50.3 percent favour the euro, while 38.4 percent want to keep the Swedish krona.

The results are reversed for women, however, with 37.2 percent indicating they would vote yes to the euro, while 45.6 percent said they would vote against switching to the European currency.

Since SCB’s last poll in May, there has been a noticeable increase in support for the euro among sympathizers of both the Social Democratic and Moderate parties.

In addition, fewer Social Democratic supporters indicated they are against adopting the euro.

Compared with results from a poll conducted in November 2008, there has been an increase in the number of people who would vote yes to the euro among sympathizers of all political parties represented in the Riksdag except the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats.

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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

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.