EUROPE - The creation of more workplace pensions must be the top priority of the Brussels institutions, according to the European Federation for Retirement Provision (EFRP).

The federation, in its response to the European Commission's Green Paper on pensions, said this should take priority over upgrading, or fine-tuning, pensions regulations.

According to the EFRP, only 40% of EU working citizens have employer-based pensions in operation.

The federation said one reason for the low proportion of workplace pensions schemes was the fact that small companies - the most common employers - lacked the resources to cope, while the provision of staff pensions remained the decision of the employer.

The EFRP said there was an urgent need to increase the coverage of supplementary funded, work-related pensions systems.

"Indeed," it added, "the issue is so pressing that it should take priority over many of the issues covered in the Green Paper."

The federation - whose members cover the pensions needs of more than 83m citizens - said the EU should not let deficit and debt reductions impinge on savings in funded pensions.

It also decried the fact some member states, including several in the CEE region, had scaled back the scope and pace of their pension reform, or were considering doing so.

The EFRP said such moves were "short-sighted and undesirable".

On the subject of mobility, it said it did not believe cross-border activity had been hindered by a lack of harmonisation of prudential rules.

Instead, the problem lies in some provisions in the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive, it said.

As an example, it cited the requirement for pan-European pensions institutions to be fully funded at all times and the "unclear" demarcation of prudential regulation and national and social labour law.

The EFRP said more cooperation among supervisors could help to improve the cross-border functioning of IORPs.