FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between social security and pensions?

    The social security system in most European countries comprises the pension, sickness and health insurance systems, as well the national employment policy system and the non-contributory social benefit system.

    Therefore, pension benefits form only one part of social security.

  • Can the EU regulate social security?

    Social security is one of the areas of exclusive national competence, meaning that the EU has no right to legislate on social security matters. The EU can, however, make rules on the way national rules are coordinated when a person moves from one country to another.

    The EU rules on social security coordination apply in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland to national legislation on:

    • sickness, maternity and equivalent paternity benefits
    • old-age pensions, pre-retirement and invalidity benefits
    • survivors' benefits and death grants
    • unemployment benefits
    • family benefits
    • benefits in respect of accidents at work and occupational diseases

  • What are the different pension pillars?

    First pillar pensions are the pensions provided by the state through pension contributions falling under social (Statutory or State Pension).

    Second pillar pensions are provided for the employee by the employer. They are also called "supplementary" or "occupational" pensions (Supplementary pension).

    Third pillar pensions are private pension schemes i.e. individual savings, often in the form of a life insurance.

  • What type of pensions do researchers have?

    Most researchers have first pillar pensions. This requires an employment relationship between the researchers and his/her employer where they pay social security contributions. This is often supplemented by an occupational pension provided by the researcher's employer. Depending on the country, the first or second pillar pensions can carry more or less weight.

  • What happens to researchers' pensions when they move?

    If a researcher moves within the European Union and the EEA countries and Switzerland, his/her first pillar pension will be coordinated between the countries involved under EU social security coordination rules. With countries outside the EU, bilateral agreements exist that govern the portability of pension rights. When the researcher retires, these rules will determine where and how much pension benefits the researcher receives.

    There are, however, no EU rules relating to the portability of second pillar pension rights, although they are in preparation. There is therefore a risk that the researcher loses some of his/her entitlements as a consequence of his/her move.

  • Who can you contact about your different pension entitlements?

    For more information about the pensions offered by your institution, please go to where you can select your country , your employer and find the pension benefits you are entitled to (both first and second pillar), as well as contact details for further questions.

  • What is the pan-European supplementary pension fund for researchers?

    The pan-European pension fund is a project run the by the European Commission to create a common "pot" for occupational pensions between the employers of researchers in different countries. Contributing to one common pot would eliminate the risk of losing supplementary pension entitlements as a consequence of a researcher's move.

  • Which employers belong to the fund?

    The fund does not yet exist, but is in preparation. Provided that all the researcher's employers belong to the fund, a researcher would be able to pay into this fund (together with his/her employer) immediately and without interruption.

  • Where can you find more information about the pan-European pension fund for researchers?

    For a complete document repository, please go to RESAVER.

  • When will this fund be operational?

    It is meant to be operational in 2015. It will be announced on the EURAXESS portal as well as via other channels.

  • Who can you contact?

    You can contact