GUEST COMMENT: A bumpy ride

Written by James Walsh policy lead: EU and international, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

The best advice I can give Pensions Age readers at the start of 2017 is to strap yourselves in; we don’t know where the road ahead will lead, but it’s likely to be bumpy.

I am not just talking about Brexit, although that is bound to generate plenty of headlines and continuing uncertainty. The European scene has plenty of other sources of political upheaval lined up for the next 12 months.

First up will be elections in the Netherlands in March. Just as in the UK, there are plenty of eurosceptic voices in this key EU nation and long-time British ally. Next, France will elect a new President in May – most probably centre-right Francois Fillon but there is an outside chance of the Front National’s Marine Le Pen. Either will herald a significant change of direction in one of the EU’s key players. Madame Le Pen would push for a ‘Frexit’ referendum.

Finally – and most importantly – there will be German elections in the autumn. We wait to see whether Angela Merkel will continue as Chancellor and, if so, what kind of government she will lead.

Then there is Italy and its bank bail-outs, Greece, a potential return of the Eurozone crisis and much more.

So, anyone who thinks the level of political risk might simmer down after 2016 should think again.

The PLSA’s task will be to ensure the government takes full account of pension schemes’ concerns. On Brexit, we have a strong hand to play. With £1 trillion of investments and 17 million members, our members are major players in the economy and society. So when Brexit Secretary David Davis says – as has been reported – that it’s all about the numbers and the bigger the sector, the higher it ranks on his priority list, we can give him some good reasons to ensure Brexit works for pension schemes.

2017 – It could be quite a year ahead.

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