The chairman of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has spoken out against plans to merge the organisation’s separate insurance and pensions stakeholder groups.

The European Commission (EC) recently published a review of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), of which EIOPA is one, and said all authorities should only operate one stakeholder group.

EIOPA is the only ESA to operate two groups, meaning the EC’s plans would effectively see a merger of the insurance and pensions divisions.

Gabriel Bernardino, chairman of EIOPA, said he was strongly against the Commission’s idea and stressed it originated from an industry consultantation and not from his organisation.

“Our position, and my personal position, is very clear on this - I would definitely advocate the current situation and to continue to have a specific pensions stakeholder group,” he told IPE.

“When we started at EIOPA we were concerned about the complexities of managing two stakeholder groups, and the dimensions of this.

“It is of course complex, but to be frank, after the three and half years I definitely see the value in having individual stakeholder groups for insurance and pensions.”

The Commission proposed the idea alongside funding ESAs through a direct industry levy rather than the EU budget.

At the time, members of the current occupational pensions stakeholder group (OPSG) told IPE a merged group would become dominated by insurance, leaving debate on pensions issues very restricted.

Representative groups from the UK, Ireland and Netherlands all said their organisations would be concerned if a merger went ahead as the specificities of pensions needed addressing.

The review into ESAs will now form part of the brief for new financial stability, financial services and capital markets union Commissioner, Jonathan Hill, who is expected to take up his post later this year.

However, Bernardino remained adamant and said once consulted, his organisation would express the desire to operate two working groups.

“Of course there are common issues, such as the work on personal pensions, and the two stakeholder groups and working together on this. 

The collective work is good and we welcome that,” he said. “But there are differences. They are different types of markets and there are different types of issues.”

The review into ESA working groups also looked at the proportion of representation from pension funds and small and medium size businesses, causing further issues for pensions representatives.