EUROPE – The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has called on the European Commission to strengthen the authority's operational independence, reinforce its independent role towards national authorities and enhance its mandate and powers.

In a speech at a recent public hearing in Brussels, chairman Gabriel Bernardino said the European System of Financial Supervision – overseen by EIOPA, the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA) – achieved "important results in a very challenging environment".

But he said the system needed further improvements, starting with the strengthening of EIOPA's operational independence.

According to Bernardino, this could be achieved through the financing of the authority through an independent budget in the general budget of the EU.

He also suggested partial financing by levying fees on the industry in line with the evolution of EIOPA's mandate and powers.

Bernardino asked for further flexibility in the budgetary framework as a means of attracting qualified staff and enabling EIOPA to fulfil its duties in the implementation of Solvency II.

The chairman also called for more "efficient" decision-making.

He said this would "ensure the capacity to take swift and effective decisions and avoid situations of conflict of interest with the mandate of national competent authorities – for example, in crisis management or breach of union law".

He added: "To ensure an adequate and consistent level of supervision, for the benefit of consumer protection and financial stability, it is fundamental to strengthen our independent challenging role towards national competent authorities."

Bernardino recommended the extension of EIOPA's current powers to conduct an inquiry into a particular type of financial institution, type of product or type of conduct, access to individual information included in the harmonised templates developed for Solvency II.

Lastly, he asked for EIOPA's scope of action to be extended to personal pensions and called for a centralised oversight role for the authority respecting internal models.