Citizens' forum on pensions for Bremen MPs

20. April 2024
Bremische Bürgerschaft

A randomly selected citizens' forum is to be convened in the German federal state of Bremen to develop ideas for a new pension system for members of parliament. This was decided by the Constitution and Rules Committee of the Bremen Parliament on 18 April 2024. The decision still has to be confirmed by the entire parliament.

Between 50 and 80 citizens of Bremerhaven and Bremen are to develop a model together with pension experts, the Bund der Steuerzahler (Taxpayers' Association) and the Court of Audit. By the end of 2024, a proposal should be on the table as to what the retirement pensions of Bremen's MPs could look like in future. The aim of the citizens' forum is to avoid the impression that MPs are deciding on their own and in an uncontrolled manner about their salaries.

Pension scheme reorganised in 2011

In 2011, the pension scheme for members of parliament was changed from a pension system paid for by the state to a funded system. As a result, MPs currently receive more than 900 euros per month for their pension scheme in addition to their remuneration. They have to invest the money in an insurance policy.

However, it has turned out that the returns later on are not as high as hoped for. Due to the low interest rates that such capital market-based products have yielded in recent years, MPs currently achieve pension entitlements of no more than 120 to 130 euros per legislative term.

Pension level too low

The constitutional law expert Philipp Austermann, who was commissioned by the Bürgerschaftskanzlei to provide an expert opinion, believes that this level is too low and recommends a return to a pension system. The MPs' pensions would then have to be raised from future budgets.

According to a report commissioned by the parliamentary administration, it is not legally possible for MPs to simply pay into the pension scheme.

Return to the previous pension system

The parliamentary groups are considering a return to the pension system that existed until 2011, which is similar to the civil service system. At that time, the basic pensions and various lump sums were combined into a standardised taxable total compensation. Since then, MPs have also received an amount that they must invest in private pension schemes for their future pension.

The federal state of Baden-Württemberg is the role model for the planned mini-public in Bremen. In 2017, the state parliament there set up a citizens' forum "Pension provision for MPs", whose participants were selected at random. The forum later cast a vote that was incorporated into the recommendations of an independent commission of experts.

Background: Citizens' forum on the pension scheme for members of parliament in Baden-Württemberg