Belgium’s council of ministers has approved a bill that will exempt cross-border pension funds from fiscal and administrative levies and said the new law would underline the country’s position as a top location for pan-European schemes.The draft bill was put forward by the finance minister Johan Van Overtfeldt and approved by the Cabinet on Friday.It proposes that Belgium’s tax code not apply to second-pillar pensions provided by a Belgium-domiciled pension fund or insurance company to a non-resident as long as there is no further connection to Belgium – for example, no taxable revenue is incurred in Belgium by the work the pension is linked to.The proposed reform of the tax code would impose an obligation on the pension funds to provide the authorities annually with certain information in relation to the pensions for which the tax exemption was applied. The measure is applicable as of 1 January 2017.It is being passed to the council of states, the country’s highest administrative court.A government statement said Belgium would “confirm its position as the country of first choice for the establishment of pan-European pension funds”.PensioPlus, the Belgian pension fund association, said it was delighted the government had confirmed it would not be taxing cross-border funds.“This decision,” it said, “represents an important stimulus for the further development of pension funds and additional pensions in Belgium.”At present, 15 multinational companies – including Johnson & Johnson, Euroclear, BP and Alcon – have established pan-European pension funds in Belgium, and several other companies are looking to follow suit.The financial supervisory authority in Belgium recently approved a pan-European pension fund for General Electric. The European Commission has also decided to set up a cross-border scheme in Belgium for researchers who work in different EU countries.PensioPlus said many companies were choosing pan-European schemes because they provided a better overview for governance and greater transparency. “The joint management structure can also contribute to a higher pension through costs-saving and simplified management as a result of benefits of scale,” it said.Dutch pension funds that have relocated to Belgium in recent months have also argued that supervision in Belgium is more flexible than it is in the Netherlands.
The old size-versus-speed debate is one of the most overused and illogical ways to analyze or preview a college football game.Unfortunately, Badger fans heard all about it leading up to the Champs Sports Bowl against “speedy” Miami.Many believed “The U” would be too fast for the Badgers. Experts feared those watching would inevitably be blinded by the overwhelming quickness of the ‘Canes. The powerful UW rushing attack was supposed to pale in comparison to the Hurricanes’ athletic front seven.So how did the Badgers manage to upend Miami down in Orlando? How did they hold that explosive Miami attack to just 249 yards of total offense?To sit here and say that it was UW’s size that defeated Miami’s speed is quite honestly false. Those two teams represent a lot more than those two words.Sure, Wisconsin’s powerful rushing attack and enormous offensive line had something to do with the signature victory, but UW outplayed the Hurricanes in every aspect of the game. They were not just the more physically imposing team, they were simply the better team. The Badgers are more than just powerful — they are incredibly balanced and, yeah, they too have some fast players on the roster.True to form, UW ran it down Miami’s throats and it was an impressive display, but that’s not all it did. The Badgers won that game with a relentless pass rush, sure tackling and the ability to consistently convert on third down through the air.You know what’s funny about all those things? The vast majority of teams in college football, whether labeled speedy or not, are well aware they lead to wins.And that’s what makes this whole speed and size debate so aggravating: it just doesn’t exist. Everyone needs speed and everyone needs physicality — this is football we’re talking about after all.Twenty years ago there may have been a gap in speed and athleticism across college football. I wouldn’t disagree that the southern teams had more speed, but in today’s game, every program gets its hands on quick players. Recruiting now goes coast-to-coast as midwestern programs continue to bring in players from Florida and California.As far as speed is concerned, the playing field is now pretty much even.And while everyone was busy talking about the difference in styles between the two programs, no one acknowledged that Miami had almost the exact same offensive game plan as the Badgers. Most overlook this, but the Hurricanes’ offense is only successful when they get their running game going. They had three backs combine to total over two thousand yards on the year — that’s physical football. They have a big offensive line and physical runners, but they are labeled as the speedy finesse team. The Miami players shivering in 50-degree weather didn’t promote a very rugged image, but they at least wanted to be physical up front.There are very few teams in football that can run their offenses effectively without moving the ball on the ground or winning the battles on line of scrimmage. UW won those battles and got pressure on Jacory Harris, while Scott Tolzien was comfortable in the pocket. That’s why we saw the Badgers dominate in the passing game, because I don’t care how fast your receivers are, without time to throw, no one looks open.And as the Hurricanes’ offense struggled, Tolzien became the first Wisconsin quarterback to reach 200 completions in a season, but you won’t hear anyone acknowledge the strides UW has made in the passing game.Yet, the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl isn’t the only example of a game that illuminates the idiocy of the speed and size debate, especially in the Big Ten.Ohio State and Terrelle Pryor ran wild in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes dominated the line of scrimmage and wore down an Oregon offense that was said to be the most explosive in the country. And thanks to Iowa and Penn State, the Big Ten proved it has some capable athletes to go along with oversized linemen (four Big Ten teams finished in the top 16).Here’s the thing — in college football today we have so many types of offenses, so many formations that we lose sight of the basics. Some teams spread it out, some opt to play between the tackles and others pull out some crazy triple option attack. But in the end each team’s core objective remains the same: you must control the line of scrimmage.Down in those trenches you need size, you need to be physical. Big Ten teams, SEC teams, ACC teams, all of them. And as unbelievable as it sounds, the good teams have both size and speed.Just check out Miami head coach Randy Shannon’s comments to ESPN.com prior to the bowl game.“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re going to be faster than those guys or they’re going to be faster than us,” he said. “We have a big offensive line; they have a big offensive line. They have big guys on defense; we have big guys on defense. It’s going to work itself out.“It’s just a myth that if you’re down south you run faster.”Coach Shannon was proved right as UW dispelled the ridiculous myth once again. I guess if the south wants to regain the speed advantage they just need to get faster, because the rest of the country has certainly caught up.Max is a junior majoring in journalism. Think the size versus speed debate should continue? Let him know at [email protected]