EUROPE- Pan-European defined benefit (DB) pension schemes face “obstacles” under the new directives, according to Anne Maher, head of the Irish pensions regulator.

Maher said that different funding levels across schemes would be a “serious obstacle” to pan-European DB plans. “If a multinational tried to do it, I can’t see it working in practice,” she told a Dublin conference.

Maher admitted that no one had yet put their head above the parapet on cross-border plans. “It probably needs some courage to be the first player,” she said. “To spend some money.”

On the same issue, Alan Pickering, outgoing chairman of the European Federation for Retirement Provision, foresaw no fiscal impediment. “ The tax authorities are quite sanguine. They know how to do a deal,” he said. “I think the tax obstacles will evaporate quite quickly.”

Maher warned that it is up to regulators to make sure that the pension fund directive does not descend into a mess. “I don’t think it will lead to chaos,” she said but warned there could be “open season”.

The dangers of lax transposition from EU directive to national legislation will be the subject of this Friday’s meeting in Brussels of national regulators and ministries.

Maher reckoned that there will be about 80 questions to put to the Commission. “Even though I am optimistic, it’s quite unlikely that member states will come back with all the answers.”