Many researchers must move around a lot before getting a permanent position. Looking at the long-term future I do not see any guarantee. Mobility is very important for research but the pension is one of the issues to deal with and it seems that policy makers are not interested to solve the problem, so we must find a solution ourselves. Moving between different countries means that you apply to different pension schemes, which can´t be combined (at the moment there is no EU coordination). In some countries you must work for a minimum number of years to receive a pension and if you move there just for 2-3 years, your contribution is lost. If they allow you to move the contribution to another country, most of the contribution is re-taxed and the amount that you finally get is really small. Most of the pension contributions are lost along the way. In some cases you can put the money in your pocket (with higher taxation) but almost nobody uses it for creating a pension. I do not see much interest in this topic among policy makers, and most young researchers are more concerned about their work and about their present and immediate future than thinking about long-term perspectives. They will probably become aware of the problem (as usual) when it becomes reality for them. Researcher mobility was not considered that important until 15-20 years ago, so most researchers are still receiving pensions within usual schemes at the moment. In 20 years or so, when the first mobile researchers start having serious problems with their pensions, someone will maybe start to think about it, but it will be too late.

What solutions?

RESAVER (http://www.resaver.eu/) is a great idea developed by the European Commission within the H2020 to create a state-of-the-art pension arrangement tailor made for research organisations. RESAVER is a defined contribution pension fund that public and private research organisations in the European Economic Area can provide to mobile and non-mobile employees. It is operating in multiple countries facilitating researcher mobility by allowing continuity of pension savings across organisations and/or countries. Scientists could get several benefits from RESAVER, however the affiliation to RESAVER is on voluntary base at the moment and should become mandatory for any international institute otherwise it could just increase the differences within EU countries and institutes.

Another possible solution could be recognizing the freelance status to the researchers. For large part of our career we are actually freelance, but not officially recognised as such. If we could get our VAT we could also decide how to manage our money, how to invest our pension and we could overpass all the issues reported above and many more related to proposal submission and project management.

All these considerations will probably not work for me or for my generation, but if we now start sowing the seeds, the next generation will reap the harvest. The discussion is open …