EUROPE - The European Federation for Retirement Provision (EFRP) launched a Central & Eastern European Forum (CEEC Forum) at a meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, today.

The forum is designed to bring together representatives from private pension institutions operating both mandatory and voluntary schemes established in the new EU member states over the past decade.

It is intended to provide the fledgling pension systems with a format for the discussion of common issues and experiences. It is also designed to promote common European values in the pension systems.

Some debates may result in action points to be taken to the EU level in Brussels, the EFRP said in a statement.

The inaugural meeting was hosted by the Slovak Association of Pension Funds Management Companies and was attended by representatives from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary in addition to those from Slovakia. Croatia, which has applied for EU membership, was also represented. Slovenia and Romania have also joined the CEEC Forum as has non-EU member, Kosovo. Bulgaria has opted for observer status.

It is intended that meetings will take place at regular intervals and the Forum is still open for representatives from other member states that would like to join, the EFRP statement added.

Csaba Nagy, president of the Hungarian Association of Pension Funds, was named chairman of the CEEC Forum and will represent the Forum on the EFRP board.

The Forum was a strong statement by the EFRP towards the central and eastern Europe pensions industry, EFRP chairman Jaap Maassen said.

"We want to be open towards the new forms of private pension provision in the region," he added. "Despite differences in the multi-pillar pensions model between the [old EU-15 and the new members], we all share the common goal to secure safe and affordable pensions for working people."