EU member states have come closer together in recent months in their positions about the EC’s proposed pensions directive, said Jean-Yves Muyelle of the commission. “However, there is not as yet agreement among them,” he added.

Speaking at a seminar in Brussels this week “Towards Pan European Pensions” organised by the European Economic and Social Affairs Committee and consultants Hewitt Associates, he paid tribute to the progress made on the directive under the Spanish presidency.

“Before, the Swedes tried but did not get agreement between the members,” he said. Under the Belgian presidency there was no progress.

“But, it is not going to be completed in the next six months,” he warned, referring to all that would have to be put in place once the Council of Ministers reached agreement.

He was hopeful that the Danish presidency, which follows the Spanish, would help the directive.

Muyelle pointed out how the position of member states on the issue of prudential supervision had changed. Originally there had been contrasting views on what this had meant.

“This process has been an educational. At one point we realised how German attitudes had changed completely on prudent man over a 12-month period. So let us be optimistic about the directive,” he said.

Muyelle was responding to a comment and question from Withold Galinat of the German chemical company BASF, who said there seemed to be “a fair chance” the directive would not happen, adding “what happens if the directive does not come through, as Europe’s international companies need it desperately?”

Joachim Melgarejo, a member of the Spanish delegation to the pensions working group, said: “we will have to fight for more “rapprochement” among member states.”