EUROPE – The European insurance association says the new directive on occupational pensions could lead to convergence in the European pensions market.

“If consistently implemented, the EU directive on the activities if institutions for occupational retirement provision may give a push to ensure national pension markets converge with homogenous legal and prudential rules,” the Comité Européen des Assurances said.

And it called for life insurers to have a “level playing field” in the occupational pensions arena.

“Life insurers should be granted a level playing-field with other operators in 2nd-pillar schemes,” Brussels-based CEA said in its annual report for 2004-5.

In the context of increasing mobility of workers throughout the EU, the CEA added it was “urgent” to remove social and fiscal barriers to the portability of occupational pensions.

“This implies guaranteeing the possibility of acquired occupational pension rights being preserved in the country of activity, but also the employee’s option of transferring the capital value to the new system.”

The CEA said tax obstacles must be eliminated and cases involving cross-border transfers should be handled in a “non-discriminatory manner”.

It added that the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on the matter “might be delayed”.