EU Parliament sets pensions vote

EUROPE – The European Parliament has pencilled in March 11 for a vote on the Pension Funds Directive, with Parliamentary rapporteur Othmar Karas saying supplementary cross-border pensions are set to “come closer”.

According to the draft agenda of the forthcoming plenary session of the Parliament in Strasbourg, a vote on the directive is “possible” on March 11.

“After 12 years, the prospect of introducing supplementary cross-border pension schemes across the EU will come closer when MEPs vote on a carefully crafted common position reached by Council,” says Austrian MEP Karas, the Parliament’s rapporteur for the directive.

Karas added that attention would now focus on amendments being proposed by the Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

“While no attempt is made to change the technical investment rules, several amendments take up issues where practices are different in the Member States over social benefits such as disability or provision for survivors and limits placed on a pension paid out as a lump sum,” Karas said in a statement.

He recognises that an amendment made by the committee, covering so-called biometric risks, has prompted industry concern that it could “put up costs significantly”. Interestingly, he does not attempt to allay such worries.

At its last meeting the economic committee adopted the draft legislative resolution by 24 votes to three, with 13 abstentions, Karas says.

Karas has said that he has tried to “strike the right balance between” what are seen as two competing components of pensions provision: the financial services side and the “social” side, as exemplified by biometric risks.

“It needs to be stressed that we are dealing here with a financial services directive that is meant to be a step towards completion of the internal market. However, it also deals with the second pillar of the pension system,” he says.

The directive “should not only create a framework for the capital market but also take into account the social security of the beneficiaries”.

To pass into law the directive needs a clear majority among the 626 MEPs.

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