EUROPE – Anne Maher, the chief executive of Ireland’s Pensions Board, has suggested that a pan-European pensions coordinator might be a good idea.

“Some form of EU coordinator might be a good idea,” Maher said – although she added she would not welcome centralised regulation because the regulatory environment for European pensions is “not a green field situation”.

But she said there’s still quite a distance to go before there’s a pan-European pensions regulator.

Maher was speaking on the first online IPe-Symposium, where European pensions regulation came in for a battering from speakers.

Maher said regulators were “not out there to get pension funds or to make life awkward for them”. She said regulators and schemes had common objectives.

She rejected the idea that the insurance measure Solvency II should be applied to pension funds. “I have strong views that that’s not the way forward.” She added it could be very destructive for defined benefit plans in Europe.

Robin Ellison, chairman of the UK’s National Association of Pension Funds, spoke of the conflict between the Anglo-Saxon approach and the traditional Continental approach – with Continental schemes now seeming “rather stronger”.

But he was scathing about the pension fund directive.

“One of the tragedies of the European pension directive is that it’s been hijacked by various interest groups,” Ellison said in a keynote address.

He said the total effect of the directive’s provisions is “counterproductive”.

He reckons the regulatory framework is now “so tight that none of us can live with” it.

The challenge was to revise the directive to achieve sensible protection that everybody could live with. He would watch proceedings with “interest and anguish”.