The 2020 pension reform stands and falls above all with the increase in value added tax. This is the subject of the settlement of differences between the Council of States and the National Council in the parliamentary spring session 2017, the aim being to bring the reform to the final vote in the current session (see our contribution of 3 March 2017).
On 7 March 2017, the Council of States debated (for the third and last time within the framework of the settlement of differences) the 2020 pension plan (see minutes of the meeting).
One of the main differences is the increase in value added tax. The Council of States wants to increase VAT by 1.0%, whereas the National Council only wants to raise it by 0.6% (see the Federal Council's vote on video).
In contrast to the National Council, the Council of States sees no room for the automatic increase in the retirement age, the so-called stabilisation rule, according to which the retirement age is automatically raised to up to 67 as soon as the AHV fund falls below 80% of annual expenditure. Furthermore, widows' pensions should not be affected, in order not to unnecessarily jeopardise the bill. The middle-class majority of the National Council is prepared to take this risk. According to the National Council's understanding, only women with children in need of support should be entitled to a widow's pension. In addition, the pension is to be reduced from 80% to 60% of a retirement pension.
Despite the deadlocked differences, important agreements were reached. These include raising the retirement age for women to 65, reducing the conversion rate from 6.8% to 6.0% and making retirement more flexible.
If the National Council does not give in, there is no way around a conciliation conference (cf. Art. 91 of the Parliamentary Act) in order to find a "Swiss compromise" after all.
If no compromise is reached in the conference or if the compromise is rejected by one or both Councils, the legislative project has failed.