EUROPE – The European insurance industry body, the Comité Européen des Assurances, says the European directive on occupational pensions represents a “substantial success” for insurers.

And it says that the rising demand for private pensions points to the growth potential of the industry.

“The adoption of the directive on occupational pensions is a milestone on the way to full integration of the single market for financial services as set out in the FSAP Financial Services Action_Plan,” the CEA says in its annual report.

“It also represents a substantial success for CEA and its member associations which initiated a particularly difficult campaign years before the directive was proposed in October 2000.

“It is very satisfying to note that the position CEA promoted throughout the procedure has very largely been taken into account.”

Such sentiments are unlikely to find favour with other potential providers of occupational pensions such as investment funds.

The Fédération Européenne des Fonds et Sociétés d'Investissement, the European investment funds association, feels that investment funds were excluded from the directive in favour of the insurers. “The retirement second pillar is far more than life insurance,” says Steffen Matthias, Fefsi’s secretary general.

Brussels-based CEA, which is the umbrella body for 30 national insurance associations, also sees demographic change benefiting insurers. “The rising cycle in non-life insurance and the growing demand for private pension products are indicators of the stability and growth potential of our industry,” it says.

And the CEA plans to make sure insurers’ voices are heard as pensions regulation develops at the European level. “European life insurers have a frontline role to play in their capacity as occupational pension providers.

“This is why CEA intends to remain the preferential contact of European institutions in the future phases of constructing the regulatory framework in which insurers have to work.”