Insurance Europe, the European insurance and reinsurance federation, has voiced its support for the European Commission’s aim to promote a more European approach to tackling the challenges faced by pension systems in EU member states. Such an approach is particularly required in the area of complementary pension schemes.
“The single market is more than just removing obstacles to cross-border business. It is equally about removing any unjustified difference in regulatory regimes,” said Michaela Koller, director general of Insurance Europe. Koller was speaking today at an EC public hearing on the review of the EU Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) Directive.
There can be direct competition between IORPs and insurers providing occupational pensions in EU member states. To achieve fair competition and consistency in prudential regimes, Insurance Europe strongly supports the application of the “same risks, same rules, same capital” principle for all EU financial institutions providing occupation pension products, provided the economically significant characteristics of pension funds are taken into account.
“The outcome of the debate on the review of the IORP Directive should be that consumers have a similar level of protection for a similar level of promises, irrespective of whether they are members/beneficiaries of an IORP or of an occupational pension scheme provided by a life insurer. Such an achievement would undoubtedly improve consumer confidence at a time when it is crucial to encourage citizens to save more for their old age,” said Koller.
As EU regulation currently stands, when insurers move to the forthcoming sophisticated Solvency II regulatory regime, IORPs will continue to be regulated under the cruder old system, Solvency I.
Insurance Europe supports a package of measures related to long-term guarantee products that is currently being developed under Solvency II. This package would then allow the Solvency II principles to be applied to both IORPs and insurance companies without any significant adverse or unintended consequences.
“We believe that once appropriate solutions are found under Solvency II for the treatment of long-term guarantee products they can serve as the framework for ensuring comparable and high levels of consumer protection for all pension schemes,” said Koller.