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Francesco Briganti, former director of the European Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP), has set up an advocacy group to lobby for the growth of cross-border social protection solutions.

The Brussels-based organisation, named Cross Border Benefit Alliance (CBBA) Europe, will push for the removal of existing obstacles to the development of cross-border employee benefits in the EU.

“The Alliance is strongly convinced that the current national barriers to the creation of cross-border employee benefits represent a useless burden and foolish costs for sponsor companies and future beneficiaries,” CBBA-Europe’s said on its newly-launched website.

“Economies of scale, simplicity in administration, full portable social benefits, costless mobility of workers and consistent taxation formulas would be beneficial for both the EU internal market and the European Social Model.

“In addition, huge capital potentially accumulated by these pan-European funds may be invested in the European economy, and contribute to the completion of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) and to the achievement of the main goals of the so-called Juncker Plan.”

While cross-border schemes already exist, they have not gained much support across Europe. Notable exceptions are Resaver, which began accepting money in March, and Aon’s UnitedPensions IORP. The consultancy group added its own pension funds and those of Swiss fragrance company Givaudan to UnitedPensions this year.

Briganti said the development of cross-border employee benefits had encountered resistance from parts of the European pension industry.

“However, after studying for more than five years the legal feasibility of pan-European social protection plans during my PhD in EU law, the conclusion was that the EU Treaties would not need to be changed to make it happen,” he said. “In other words, the main obstacles are mainly political [in] nature rather than legal.

“Yet, despite great interest in cross-border employee benefits, it seems that only the voice of those who oppose them has been heard so far in Brussels. Some advocacy organisations even argue that there isn’t real appetite or a need for cross-border benefits in Europe, and defend the current fragmentation and status quo.”

CBBA-Europe will host an inaugural conference in Brussels on 6 December this year. Keynote speeches will be delivered by Gabriel Bernardino, chairman of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, and Phyllis Borzi, former assistant secretary for employee benefits security of the US Department of Labor under the Obama administration.

Representatives of multinational employers, European sector-wide federations of employers and workers as well as pension providers will also participate to discuss the issues at stake.

More information on CBBA-Europe can be found at www.cbba-europe.eu.

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