EUROPE – The European Commission has set up occupational pensions regulatory and supervisory committees as part of a series of measures to help it respond to developments in the financial sector.

The Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors, or CEIOPS, would come into effect from November 24, the Commission said in a statement.

And it also plans to set up an advisory group called the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Committee, or EIOPC. The committees will comprise representatives of member states, not trade bodies.

The moves are part of a package which “aims to extend the committee structure and approach already used in the securities sector since 2002 to banking, insurance and investment funds (UCITS)”.

The existing European Securities Committee and Committee of European Securities Regulators will be amended to include UCITS, or Undertakings for the Collective Investment of Transferable Securities.

A European Banking Committee and a Committee of European Banking Supervisors would also be set up.

“Once agreed and implemented, the measures will produce real benefits by allowing greater and more detailed co-operation between supervisors and much greater convergence in day-to-day regulation and supervision,” the Commission said.

"European legislators and regulators in the banking, insurance and mutual fund industry are saddled with a system ill-suited to an EU of twenty five Member States and to the modern financial world,” said internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein.

He saw “real improvements in the way European financial markets work, a boost for integration and better protection for investors".

The Commission said the committees of supervisors would be independent – though the Commission would participate as an observer. The committees themselves would decide on resources, working methods and even their location.

The moves aim to give a boost to the Commission’s Financial Service Action Plan.

“Given the scale and economic importance of the FSAP, it has become increasingly clear that the financial services committee structure itself has and will increasingly come under pressure.”

Meanwhile, the Comité Européen des Assurances, the European insurance body, has said the Commission’s proposed directive on gender equality on insurance could have unintended consequences for pensions.

“Pension and health insurance would be more expensive for men (despite their lower life expectancy and fewer health claims),” the CEA said. “The proposed directive may well lead to higher insurance prices for all consumers,” said CEA director general Daniel Schanté. “This could be the consequence of a hasty decision by the Commission without adequate consultation of interested parties.”