European associations call for reconsideration of IORP plans

Several European employers, unions and pension organisations have urged the European Commission to reconsider its plans for the occupational pensions industry, in a joint statement published today.

The EC will launch a reviewing process of European pension legislation, with European Commissioner for internal market and services Michel Barnier opening a public hearing on the review of the IORP Directive today.

Signatories of the statement are the European Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP), BUSINESSEUROPE, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services (CEEP), the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), the European Federation of Retirement Provision (EFRP), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

The associations wrote that it is dangerous to apply legislation made for insurance companies to IORPs, as there are fundamental differences between them. Harmonising the regulatory regime could have unintended consequences on pension plan members, IORPs and the economy as a whole by impeding growth and job creation, the statement said.

Calling on politicians to keep occupational pensions in Europe adequate and sustainable, the associations urged commissioner Barnier and the European Commission to recognise the important issues at stake before making a proposal for a revised IORP Directive.

The statement read: “We urge the European Commission to reconsider its plans and to create an environment that stimulates workplace pension provision. The impact of any new proposals must be measured through high-quality Quantitative Impact Studies, including assessment of the social, financial and economic effects of any proposed rule changes, and their macro-economic effects. A high-level political debate is also required with involvement from all the relevant stakeholders, most notably the European social partners.”

AIEP’s secretary general Bruno Gabellieri said: “Occupational pension schemes are in most cases compulsory as a part of the national labour law or collective labour agreements. Therefore they are not involved into any level playing field and do not compete with other providers. The goal of the regulation should consist in facilitating the existence of good pension schemes for the European workers and citizens and therefore social partners should be allowed to steer the promises they make rather than be imposed extra capital costs, which are a burden for the employers”.

CEEP’s general secretary Ralf Resch added: “Public employers are deeply concerned regarding the intention of the European Commission to the application of Solvency II to pension schemes. This would increase the cost in providing such schemes, reducing their attractiveness and add new burdens in a time when public budgets suffer from the crisis. At the same time, nothing would be won in terms of security for the members in the schemes. Pension schemes are essentially different from insurance schemes and this has to be recognised.”

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