EUROPE - A version of the European Commission's forthcoming policy paper on national pension schemes, which calls for "necessary and urgent" reform, was leaked earlier this week.

The green paper is also believed to have recommended the establishment of a guarantee system that would assist pensioners in the event of pension scheme failure.

Brussels insiders expressed shock at the leak, but declined to comment further until a final version of the paper is released.

An unconfirmed timing for the official unveiling of the final document is set for 7 July.

Three commissioners are sharing joint responsibility for the paper: László Andor, commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion; Olli Rehn, commissioner for economics and monetary affairs; and Michel Barnier, commissioner for the internal market, which includes financial legislation.

Earlier this month, Georg Fischer, head of the pensions unit in the Commission, expressed a similar sense of urgency respecting European pension reform.

Speaking at the Second Annual Transatlantic Conference on pensions, Mr Fischer said despite progress in reforms by EU member state governments, there remained "considerable risks to beneficiaries". (see earlier IPE story: Fischer drops hints on EC pension reform green paper)

Mr Fischer added beneficiaries' security could remain contingent on labour and financial markets, with "important risks remaining" if employment rates did not increase enough, or capital markets failed to deliver as expected.

A draft version of the green paper has already been informally debated by a group of eight commissioners - one of several groups set up by president José Manuel Barroso some months ago to discuss special topics.

The views of this pensions group have been incorporated into the paper.

Final clearance by the entire 'college' of 27 commissioners is scheduled to take place earlier in the day of the unveiling.