The European Commission is taking applications for providers interested in setting up a European tracking service for pensions.

Launched last month, the call for proposals delivers on a commitment made by the Commission last year to offer initial support to stakeholders looking to set up a European Tracking Service (ETS).

Applications can be submitted until the end of May.

In June last year a consortium of European pension providers presented a business plan for a cross-border ETS, called Track and Trace Your Pension in Europe (TTYPE). The providers said such a service would take six years to break even and so would initially be reliant on grants from the commission.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission told IPE that it took on board the outcome of the TTYPE project’s work in deciding to pursue the cross-border ETS.

Although the commission is offering initial support to those wishing to set up an ETS, it is not taking responsibility for its implementation or running, according to the spokeswoman.

The funding is to help stakeholders with implementing the pilot stage of the ETS only. The call for proposals is therefore aimed at stakeholders “who would take full ownership of the ETS and have a long-term strategy for its full roll-out”.

Only one proposal will receive a financial grant from the EU. This is not allowed to exceed 80% of the total “eligible costs of the action”, with applicants needing to guarantee financing the remainder from other sources.

The total budget earmarked for the EU’s contribution is estimated at €2.5m. 

Funding can be for activities such as “actions aiming at the creation and improving of networks”, digital infrastructure development, conferences and seminars, and/or analytical studies, according to the commission’s document.

The TTYPE consortium had calculated that, after deducting membership fees of €3m, around €17m would be needed in the first five years to cover the costs of developing, connecting, and running the ETS.

Case for ETS ‘reinforced’

The European Commission proposed the establishment of an ETS for pensions in a white paper in 2012. In its call for proposals document it said that developments since then, such as the IORP II Directive, had “reinforced” the case for cross-border tracking services.

According to the document, the pilot stage of the ETS should cover at least five EU member states or other countries deemed eligible, and “offer functionality that allows users to find their former supplementary pension funds in the participating countries”.

It should be designed in a way that would allow it to be subsequently rolled out to more countries and with more functionality, and the strategy should focus on making the ETS financially self-sustainable after full roll-out.

Where possible, the ETS should include information on statutory and/or personal pensions, although the main focus should be on occupational pensions, the commission said.

Information provided by the ETS should be compatible with the pension information provisions of the Supplementary Pension Rights Directives and the IORP II Directive “and offer pension providers a cost-effective tool for fulfilling their information duties”.

The call for proposals can be found here.