EUROPE - In the 15 months between the implementation of the EU pensions directive and the beginning of this year nine cross-border pension arrangements were concluded, according to the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors (CEIOPS).
The largest was for a Luxembourg-based arrangement, which receives contributions from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Poland, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
"When a pension fund in one country receives a contribution from a unit of the sponsoring corporate located in another country under the latter's relevant social and labour law, this legal relationship is considered to be a cross-border case under the IORP directive," Mihály Erdös, chairman of CEIOPS' occupational pensions committee, told IPE.
"In such a situation the pension fund has to notify the competent home authority, which in turn has to inform the competent host authority from which the pension fund has received the contribution.
"We have frequently heard the criticism that the IORP directive has not been effective because we have not had cross-border notifications. So in line with CEIOPS' transparency policy we decided to inform the various stakeholders that several notifications are already in place."
Altogether there are currently some 48 cross-border cases, most of which were legally established before the EU directive went into force on 23 September 2005 and which have had to be notified now, according to the CEIOPS report.
"I would consider them to be real pan-European pension funds because under the IORP directive a centre, or home, pension fund may receive contributions from other member states instead of having to establish separate pension funds in each of the member states where it has members," Erdös said.
"Our experience is that CEIOPS-competent authorities are co-operating effectively with each other in IORPs' cross-border activities," the report noted. "To date there have been no major difficulties in the operation of the notification procedures."
It adds: "It is anticipated that in the future there will be many new cross-border IORPs."
Nevertheless, the CEIOPS report identified elements of the directive that need further explanation.
"At CEIOPS we have been preparing a report on the implementation of the IORP directive, which is due to be published by the end of this year," Erdös said. "Our surveys suggest there are two main areas where we can foresee a need for further clarification.
"The first is the question of the technical provisions around the funding requirement. The directive has a special regulation that says a pension fund must be fully funded at all times when it wants to receive cross-border contributions. The term ‘fully funded at all times' is very sensitive.
"The second relates to the so-called ring-fencing requirement. In several places the IORP directive refers to a need to ring-fence -- to ring-fence the assets and the liabilities, to ring-fence where a pension fund has a voluntary as well as a mandatory part. But it is not very clear what ring-fencing means in practice and how the different member states are implementing this requirement."
The report is available at: http://www.ceiops.org/media/files/publications/reports/CEIOPS-OP-03-07Reportonmarketdevelopment.pdf