The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority’s (EIOPA) pensions stakeholder group is to launch a sub-committee devoted to questions of pension fund solvency, IPE has learned.

The new Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group (OPSG) last week named Benne van Popta as its chair, replacing Chris Verhaegen after one term, while PensionsEurope secretary general Matti Leppälä was elected vice-chair.

EIOPA has since confirmed the appointments, and, in a statement issued by the regulator, Van Popta said: “I have been involved in pension reform debates at a national, European and international level, dealing with issues of solvency, governance, disclosure, macro-economic, regulatory and personal pensions.

“I am confident my knowledge and experience will contribute greatly to the work of the OPSG and, by extension, EIOPA.”

Shortly after last week’s inaugural meeting, a source close to the OPSG said its first meeting had concluded with a “recognition” that it would need to focus on defined contribution funds and consumer protection during its two-and-a-half-year term.

A second source has since elaborated on the OPSG’s deliberations, saying a decision was made to set up sub-groups focused on a number of areas EIOPA will examine in the coming years.

Noting EIOPA’s wish to conduct five consultations relating to the holistic balance sheet (HBS) by the summer of next year, the second source told IPE an agreement was reached to launch a sub-group on solvency issues.

The source said: “I think it’ll look at all the consultations EIOPA will put forward. The sponsor covenant is the one that is ongoing – there are four others being envisaged.”

Noting that the chairmanship was likely to involve a heavy workload, the source added: “It’s open for all the members to join the group, and also for people to say if they want to chair the group.”

The regulator’s chairman, Gabriel Bernardino, confirmed earlier this month that it would conduct a number of new consultations on the HBS, aiming to present the results to the incoming European Commission appointed after the 2014 European parliamentary elections.

The move comes despite internal markets and services commissioner Michel Barnier announcing that he would no longer publish a draft of the pillar I proposals for the revised IORP Directive, which concerned capital requirements.

The source said the OPSG had urged EIOPA to ensure that the four remaining HBS-related consultations would not be “too burdensome” or overlap, noting the amount of work required by the industry to respond to each one.

EIOPA also hoped to push ahead with stress testing of occupational pension funds, as announced in March, an undertaking the source said would prove “difficult” – precisely because of the absence of a uniform solvency framework across Europe.

“Basically, I guess it would lead to another quantitative impact study,” the source said of the proposals, which would examine the impact of changes in interest rates.