EUROPE – The European Insurance and Reinsurance Federation is calling for a pause in European Union regulation as for the third consecutive year life insurance underperformed general insurance.

The Comité Européen des Assurances (CEA) said non-life insurance grew by 5.3%, compared to a 1.9% fall in life insurance as the British and Spanish markets, which represent 30% of the total, fell sharply.

Total insurance premiums were 8.3% of GDP in 2002. Gérard de La Martiniere, president of the CEA, however, warned that regulation was negatively affecting the market.

He said: “EU regulation is an increasingly influential factor. Regulation should be balanced and appropriate for all stakeholders. It is in our common interest that future regulation is thought through in advance and worked out in close co-operation by all parties concerned.”

The CEA’s spokeswoman added that its plans for 2004 were, “to achieve a pause in EU regulations. We have definitely had enough and have spent the last few years on the re-insurance directive, accountancy standards, Basle II on solvency, environmental and gender inequality proposals. We need time to digest.

“The organisation and insurance companies have spent a lot of time analysising these initiatives in addition to their core business.”

The main problem was when initiatives were proposed without being adapted to the insurance industry or workable in practice. “Sometimes they are good ideas but unworkable in practice or damaging, such as the biodiversity risk or gender inequality initiatives. There needs to be analysis of cost and benefits.”