EUROPE - The European Commission's public hearing to discuss the revisions to IORPs pension funds rules, which had been scheduled to take place on 16 February, has now been postponed until Wednesday 27 May.

A European Commission official claimed the delay is for "mechanical reasons" as input to the public consultation has been arriving late, and preferred speakers, who would have attended on 16 February, were simply not available that day.

That said, there is an anomaly to be noted as responses to public consultations would normally be placed on the Commission's website as it is delivered, but their posting has also been delayed.

Officials say the data will "appear within a few weeks — well in advance of the public hearing".

Contention concerning the IORP Directive has always expected to be heated as interested parties on one side of the fence are demanding Brussels give pensioners the "highest level of security" and ensure pensioners can be confident they have a decent income at retirement. (See earlier IPE article: Commission stirs up wasps nest)

Opposing this is the industry's insistence that it is too early to think about revising capital adequacy provisions, as implementation of the present directive, in some cases as recently as in 2006, is too recent.

In broad terms, the two main goals of the directive are to provide security to future pensioners via a minimum common standard of governance, and, secondly, to provide for a level-playing field covering the sales of schemes across EU state borders.

Ieke van den Burg, a member of the European Parliament, previously told IPE she was concerned under cross-border schemes there was a need to make sure that firms were competing on a fair basis when in competition with firms from different EU states.

She argued the IORP requirements were too flexible and suggested some member states were trying to attract business under a "light set of rules" which could be risky for pensioners. 

Speaking at the EFAMA conference on pension payout solutions in Brussels earlier this week, van den Burg also  said while "IORPs II" need not be included in the proposed Solvency II legislative programme for insurance, it should nevertheless build on principles laid out in Solvency II.

Behind the scenes in the Brussels community, there is speculation that the delay until late May of the public hearing on IORPs could be, sensibly, in order to wait until over-arching, strategic approaches to all EU financial legislation linked to the financial crisis have been sorted out.

There are currently two major legislative projects in the planning pipeline. One is the De Lasrosière report, set up last year by Commission president José Manuel Barroso, and the High Level Group's recommendations are due out on Wednesday (25 February).  Charlie McCreevy, internal market commissioner, is expected to give his reaction to the report in early March, ahead of the next G20 meeting, in London, on 2 April.

And in parallel with the De Larosière report is a forthcoming white paper from the Commission's internal market DG which is designed to set out general policy initiatives for EU financial regulation - as called for by the European Parliament last year, under a joint-party resolution.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Julie Henderson on + 44 (0)20 7261 4602 or email