EUROPE – CEIOPS, the European pensions supervisory committee, is facing scrutiny from European Union finance ministers this week.

Henrik Bjerre-Nielsen, chairman of the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors, is set for an “exchange of views” with the Economic and Finance Ministers Council, or Ecofin, in Luxembourg tomorrow.

The chairman of CEIOPS’ sister committees CESR and CEBS, which cover securities and banks, will also be grilled. The ministers are looking at “progress and opportunities for better regulation in the supervisory field”.

“The integrating European capital market increases demands on supervisors from all three sectors. To guarantee efficient supervision and financial stability, supervisors have to cooperate closely and apply rules in a consistent manner,” the European Commission said.

Last week it emerged that the committee has amended a draft protocol on supervisory cooperation following criticism from the European Federation for Retirement Provision in particular. The new draft will be discussed at a meeting on October 27.

Elsewhere, European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet has said national pension systems, taxation and social security are among the institutional factors that provide a disincentive for workers.

Trichet also flagged up that long-term demographics in Europe are a “major cause for concern”.

Noting that there is lower labour utilisation in Europe compared to the US, Trichet in a speech today suggested this could be due in part to cultural factors.

“However, having said this, it should also be borne in mind that households are influenced by their institutional environment. This includes for example taxes, social security and pension systems. Such factors are providing disincentives to work.”

Trichet also commented on European demographics. He said: “Although in the short to medium run demographic factors are not projected to become too grave a problem, in the longer run they are likely to become a major source of concern.”

He pointed out that if fertility rates do not rise, then the only way to solve the problem would be by extending working lives or “substantial inward migration”.