The European Commission has put out a tender notice, looking for firms to carry out a study into how well people are served by financial products when it comes to the payment phase of pensions.

Firms are being invited to tender for a Financial Service User Group (FSUG) study on the ”performance and adequacy of pension decumulation practices in seven EU countries.”

The FSUG is a 20-member group tasked with advising the commission when it draws up legislation affecting the people who use financial services. 

The commission’s Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA) said in its letter of invitation to tender: “The ultimate objective of the study is to look at pension decumulation from the perspective of the customer through a qualitative assessment of which decumulation options result in the most adequate and safest old-age income as well as to identify existing shortfalls and analyse their causes.”

The study is to be done on at least four of the following countries — Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.

Additionally, the tender stipulated that one of the four countries to be covered my applicants must be either Poland or Slovakia.

The authority said the seven countries had been chosen because they operated in very different markets and the methods used by suppliers there varied widely.

The study should compare how annuities and non-annuity products have performed over the last ten years, from the point of view of consumers, and analyse the main issues debated in these countries which might affect pension decumulation practices in the future, it said.

The commission referred to the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority’s (EIOPA) fact finding report on decumulation phase practices, published last October, which it said gave a good overview of current rules, practices, approaches and options for pension scheme members regarding the payment phase of pensions.

“The purpose of the study is to analyse aspects of decumulation not covered by the EIOPA factual report and to look at decumulation from the point of view of the customer,” it said in the letter.

Interested parties have until 30 September to submit their proposals. 

The tender comes after EIOPA last month set out its vision on pan-European personal pensions in a consultation paper, an area FISMA has identified as key for the development of the Capital Markets Union. 

EIOPA suggested that the goal of a Pan-European Personal Pension (PEPP) system would be to give consumers good value for money through economies of scale, with providers operating across national borders. 

But national regulators, it said, would cover areas such as how to oversee the decumulation phase.