EUROPE – The European Commission is considering taking action against member states over the transposition of the new directive on occupational pensions.
IPE understands that the Commission is working on taking proceedings against several member states – just days after the directive, Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision, came into force across the European Union.
The directive came into force on September 23. Internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy has told IPE that 20 member states would be “on board” with directive by the end of the year.
But that seems unlikely, given the number of countries who still have to notify the commission and the time needed to translate and scrutinize member states’ submissions.
The Commission will not begin any infringement process until after this lengthy process, internal markets spokesman Oliver Drewes said.
He stressed that the Commission wants the directive to be “constructively implemented”. “Our objective is to get this thing right.”
The only member states that have fully notified include Denmark, Germany, Estonia and Austria, Drewes said.
Countries that have not yet officially notified, or whose notification is partial, include Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Cyrus, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK. The list changes “day by day”.
If the member states do not eventually comply, then action will commence. “Of course, that’s what we always do,” the spokesman said.
McCreevy said last month that non-compliance would be met with various warnings according to EU regulations.
The start of any procedure should be automatic once the deadline for implementation has passed, said Leonardo Sforza, director of European research at Hewitt Associates.
“As ‘guardian’ of the EU Treaty, the European Commission is empowered and has the duty to act in this respect,” he said.
The first step of the procedure is ‘letter of formal notice’ to the country concerned asking to provide full information on the measures adopted.
The next stage would be to send a ‘reasoned opinion’ to the national authority. Failing this, the next step is to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
“The large majority of the infringement procedures are resolved in favour of the EC without going to the ECJ,” Sforza added.
The European Federation for Retirement Provision noted last month that notification alone is no guarantee of correct implementation.