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CURRENCY

Sweden announces date for new bank notes

In autumn next year, Swedes will experience the biggest switch in bank notes and coins that the country has ever seen, a move that will include a brand new 200 kronor note and two kronor coin.

Sweden announces date for new bank notes
A selection of Sweden's new bank notes. Photo: Riksbank
October has been announced as the month that the first batch of the new currency will come into play, with over 300 million bank notes and two billion coins to be replaced. 
 
In their place – a fresh collection of bills featuring the likes of Swedish legends like director Ingmar Bergman, actress Greta Garbo, and children's author Astrid Lindgren

The notes were designed by Göran Österlund, whose colourful "Journey of Culture" (Kulturresan) design was selected from among eight finalists back in April 2012. 

Bergman will adorn the new 200 kronor note, Lindgren will replace Selma Lagerlöf on the 20 kronor note, Garbo will adorn the 100 kronor note, former United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld will feature on the 1,000 kronor note, opera singer Birgit Nilsson on the 500 kronor, and musician Evert Taube on the 50 kronor note.

Click here to see more images of Sweden's new banknotes


The new Swedish coin set. Photo: Riksbank

New coins will also be in Swedish people's pockets next year, including a brand new two kronor. A fresh set of one and five kronor coins will also be introduced, while the ten kronor coin will be the only currency that doesn't get a makeover. 

The new 20, 50, 200, and 1,000 kronor notes will be introduced in October 2015, with the new 100 and 500 notes to arrive one year later exactly, together with the new coins.
 
Today's 20, 50, and 1,000 notes will no longer be valid after June 30th 2016. The current 100 and 500 will be invalid after June 30th, 2017, together with the 1,2, and 5 kronor coins. 
 
Sweden's central bank, the Riksbank, stated that the new currency was designed in an effort to prevent counterfeits. It explained that the current set was designed 25 years ago and was in need of an update. The new set of coins will be smaller and lighter, it added, to reduce the costs of handling them.
 
Swedes have become less dependent on cash in recent years and as The Local reported in October, four out of five purchases in Sweden are made electronically or by debit card.

Researchers from Oxford University discovered in 2013 that Sweden's cash was among the filthiest in Europe, with bank notes containing more bacteria than all others across the continent. 

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EUROPEAN UNION

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:

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/browse/regulation-and-policy/pan-european-personal-pension-product-pepp/consumer-oriented-faqs-pan_en 

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/browse/regulation-and-policy/pan-european-personal-pension-product-pepp_en 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK. 

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