EUROPE – There is to be a meeting at the European Parliament next week amid a fear that some EU member states will not be ready for the directive on occupational pensions.

“The fear is growing within the pensions industry that a number of member states will not be ready on 23 September or will only have transposed the directive partially,” the European Parliamentary Pension Forum said.

The EPPF, set up in 2003 with the backing of Dutch civil service scheme Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, is organising a meeting on the directive – formally known as Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision, or IORP - on June 15.

“During the EPPF event light will be shed upon the present situation to respond to the various inquiries.”

The EPPF said the transposition of the directive has provoked “intense debate” at member state level and added that it is “hardly a secret that a number of them have difficulties transposing the directive”.

The meeting will feature speakers from the European Commission, Parliament and the pensions industry.

Meanwhile, Karel van Hulle, of the insurance and pensions team at the Commission’s internal markets directorate, has spoken about the likely impact of the directive.

“I believe that the implementation of the pensions directive will force member states to rethink their existing retirement systems and make them more efficient - and that can only be positive,” he said at a meeting organised by French pension association AFPEN in Paris today.

“Currently many countries place limitations on investments which inevitably limit investment returns. Individual countries should stop restricting the choice on offer to their citizens and should instead concentrate on creating systems which focus on long-term profitability. The directive will bring improvements here.

“Choice is the way forward. Furthermore there must be transparency in terms of the options that are offered to make possible comparison of the various options. In this way the social partners of one company could move to another fund on the grounds that it offers better performance. There must be competition in a market with so many billions of euros of resources. Funds should organise themselves - those that don't will inevitably lose business as companies take their business elsewhere.

“No member state can ignore what is happening in other member states. In the Netherlands pension funds already attract companies from other countries which is bound to bring about change in the way they operate given the differing needs of foreign clients.