The Belgian government is to set up a legal framework to make the country a domicile for pan-European pension funds, according to pension fund association BVPI/ABIP.
The move follows earlier criticism from the association that the government was not doing enough to boost Belgium’s role.
“The association also expects the government to create a legal frame- work in order to position Belgium within the Europe of 25 as home country for pan-European pension funds,” said incoming BVPI/ABIP chairman Philip Neyt, founder of the Belgacom pension fund.
“Belgium has to create an attractive, transparent and especially tax-wise stable vehicle that allows the pooling of European pension assets by corporations,” Neyt says.
He said that if this does not occur then it would result in a “de-localisation” of many pension funds, especially as most of the pension institutions in Belgium are linked to subsidiaries of multinational corporations.
In his maiden speech, Neyt said: “In an era of globalisation and cost optimisation, it is a no-brainer for multinational corporations to entrust the management of their pension funds to one single European competence centre.
The dream of a single European pension plan wouldn’t happen overnight “as the harmonisation and coordination of the social and labour laws are not foreseeable in the immediate future”.
The domestic Belgian pension fund sector is coming under fire. Recently, a consultant at Hewitt Associates said the increasing regulatory requirements could destroy the smaller pension fund industry. And the International Monetary Fund has identified “major weaknesses” in the supervision of pension funds in Belgium.
Neyt was elected chairman of BVPI/ABIP at the association’s general assembly on March 29. He takes over from Bernard Cardon de Lichtbuer.
Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of the CBFA regulator told the meeting that the CBFA would shortly apply a new risk model to screen the financial health of the pension institutions.