EUROPE – The European Commission has poured cold water on last week's landslide vote by the European Parliament on the Karas report for the supplementary pensions directive, by saying that it will not be able to accept around half of the amendments made to its original directive proposal.

In a guarded statement, the Commission, while welcoming the efforts of the European parliament, added:” Mr Karas’ report proposes many amendments to the Commission proposal – it is indeed quite unusual to have some 100 amendments on a proposal for directive, which contains only 20 articles.”

EC Internal Market Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, then noted that the Commission was “not in a position” to accept many of the amendments, which he said were for the most part aimed at widening the directive’s objective.
Bolkestein pointed out that the directive had a limited ambition to create “a prudential framework with stringent prudential standards to ensure security and affordability and allow for mutual recognition.”

He continued by arguing that the directive does not intend to interfere with Member State organisation of pension systems.
To this end, he stated that the Commission could not accept any amendment by the Parliament to make biometric risk an optional but necessary provision. Nor, he added should the directive define arrangements for the payments of benefits, which he said were often dependent on national tax, labour and social law.

Bolkestein also explained that the Commission could not accept any interference in the way Member States organised the governance of their pension schemes:
“The involvement of the social partners in the management of a pension fund is something that is sometimes enshrined into national and social law and this is something that cannot be imposed in all Member States by means of a directive.”