EUROPE – The European Union’s committee of pensions supervisors has signalled further supervisory “attention” on occupational pension schemes.

“In the light of the economic importance of occupational pension funds, and their potential influence on financial stability, occupational pensions supervision will require increased attention by supervisors and may call for further developments in the applicable solvency regimes and in supervisory practices,” the committee, known as CEIOPS, stated.

The Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors made the comment in its annual report for 2004, released today. Apart from occupational pensions, the committee’s core issue is the so-called Solvency II solvency rules for insurers.

It added that its permanent Occupational Pensions Committee – headed by Mihaly Erdos of Hungary - is currently consulting on a draft protocol to aid supervisory coordination in the light of the EU’s occupational pensions directive.

This consultation ends on May 30. It envisages final approval of the so-called “Budapest protocol” at a meeting in October this year.

The aim is to facilitate “consistent understanding and implementation” of the directive – as well creating the cooperation framework needed for effective enforcement.

It envisages working on “facilitating convergent supervisory practices” following an analysis of the first implementation of the directive, known officially as Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision. But it said: “The actual type of supervisory action or measure will depend on the results of this analysis.”

The report reveals the committee had revenues, mostly derived from membership fees, of €760,000. Expenses totalled €385,000 – leaving a surplus of €374,000.

The committee – founded last year – has been criticised for a lack of transparency.

“The last year represented for CEIOPS a starting up period in which its structure and procedures had to be developed and refined,” said chairman Henrik Bjerre-Nielsen.

He said he was confident that CEIOPS would be able to fulfil its challenging talks – “with the increasing commitment of the members and on the basis of a reinforced secretariat”.