EU Parliament questions pension committee plan

EUROPE – The European Parliament has questioned the European Commission’s plan to set up occupational pensions committees as part of a wider expansion of financial market oversight.

In November last year the Commission proposed setting up a series of new committees, including the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Committee, EIOPC, and the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors, CEIOPS.

At the time Internal Markets Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said the measures, an expansion of the so-called Lamfalussy process, would enable the European Union to “respond quickly and effectively to developments, and help to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement of rules across the EU”.

Since then, Baron Alexandre Lamfalussy himself has voiced concerns that the expansion could “potentially backfire”.

Christa Randzio-Plath, president of the Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, or EMAC, has also now queried the plan.

“Why introduce such regulatory committees?” the German socialist MEP asked in a draft report presented to the EMAC earlier this month – adding that she had no problems with the proposals at a technical level.

“However, at the political level the situation is quite different,” she said. “Do we have sufficient experience to enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of the Lamfalussy process and, on that basis, to give an opinion on the extension of the process to the whole of the financial services sector?”

She also wondered how urgent the setting up of the committees was, seeing as regulators can already exchange views.

“The two arguments put forward therefore do not suffice, in our view, to justify the setting up of these regulator committees.” But she said that due to time constraints, EU enlargement and the appointment of a new Commission, that Parliament need to “think seriously” before opposing the move.

The report said that against this political background the Parliament would only give “conditional” approval to the measure. The Commission's internal markets spokesman Jonathan Todd was not immediately available for comment.

CEIOPS held its first plenary meeting in Paris in February, which saw the creation of a working group for occupational pensions.

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