EUROPE – The European Federation for Retirement Provision (EFRP), which represents occupational pension plans in the EU and candidate states, is today celebrating its 25th anniversary in Brussels.

Some 230 delegates are expected to attend the event later this afternoon, which kicks off with a high level session themed ‘Pensions in the 21st century, according to an EFRP spokesperson’.

Speakers from European institutions and social partners include:
- Joaquín Almunia, European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs
- Sigisbert Dolinschek, Austrian secretary of state for social security, generations and consumer protection
- Leke van den Burg MEP
- Henrik Bjerre-Nielsen, chairman of the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors (CEIOPS)
- Thérèse de Liedekerke, UNICE social affairs director
- Jozef Niemiec, confederal secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)

According to EFRP chairman and ABP pensions director Jaap Maassen, it has been interesting to see how the EFRP has developed into a real professional organisation.

During an interview with IPE, he said: “If you ask me what our main achievements have been over the past 25 years, I would say it is that the concept prudent person rule has been accepted into the IORP directive. This basically means that pension funds can invest at least up to 70% in equities and are no longer forced to invest in government bonds only.

“One of the things I have been saying is that good legislation not only legislates but also deregulates – and this is a very good example,” he continued.

A second point would be the freedom to appoint custodians and asset managers across borders – a drive towards greater internationalisation and liberalisation of markets, said Maassen.

Another is that of home state supervision – meaning that it is the home state, which dictates the contents of the supervisory requirements, he explained.

“I think we are in many ways unique in that we have developed the whole concept – and we are considered to be the founding fathers of the pan-European pension fund concept,” Maassen added. “If you look at the future, what we are trying to do is to provide systems that ensure in the long run affordable pensions for everybody.”

According to conference literature at the event, “A European approach on work-based pension has come a long way during the lifetime of the EFRP. But we think the pace of change could be accelerated.

The federation was established in 1981. It developed out of national associations that in turn represented company-sponsored and industry-wide supplementary pension plans. In recent years, the EFRP has opened its membership to individual companies such as financial institutions and multinational employers through the creation of a ‘Supporters’ Circle’, according to the EFRP website.

In May, IPE reported that the EFRP had told the European Parliament that the Commission's proposed pensions portability directive was “not workable". According to EFRP secretary general Chris Verhaegen, portability alone would not facilitate labour mobility nor improve pension values unless it was coupled with economic viability.