EUROPE – The European Commission has ratcheted up the pressure on 11 member states it says have not fully implemented the occupational pension funds directive.

It has sent a so-called ‘reasoned opinion’ – the second stage in an infringement procedure – to the countries concerned. The next step is to take them to the European Court of Justice.

It means that almost half of the EU’s member states could be facing action over occupational pensions.

“The Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom for not having written Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision (IORP Directive) into their national laws, or for having done so only partially,” the Commission said.

The move is part of wider set of proceedings against member states over their lack of action in implementing internal market directives.

Internal markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said the countries were “effectively denying citizens and businesses across Europe the full benefit of the single market and of measures their governments have themselves agreed”.

He added: ”The Commission will do all it can to help Member States implement laws on time, but will continue to take remedial action where necessary."

The IORP directive should have been transposed by all member states by September 23 2005. The reasoned opinions follow letters of formal notice sent in December 2005.

IPE reported in January this year that 15 member states had yet to fully notify the Commission about the transposition of the directive into national legislation. And it had received no notification at all from 10 states, with partial notification from a further five.

The Commission said the directive is part of the Financial Services Action plan and completes the internal market as far as institutions providing occupational pensions are concerned.

It said: “Whilst recognising that member states' systems for occupational pensions differ widely, the directive provides harmonised rules for prudential supervision and capital requirements for these institutions.

“The directive also lays down rules for the cross-border provision of occupational pensions.”