Consultant William M Mercer has said it could take up the reigns of the proposed pan-European pensions test case, after PEPA, the Pan-European Pensions Association declared it was adopting a 'lower key approach' to the affair.
Geoffrey Furlonger, head of the European benefits team at Mercer, told IPE: PEPA appears to have died a death, through both a lack of concrete financial support and a desire to let Mario Monti show he can deliver on his promises to push the issue in the European Commission.
"At Mercer we are examining the possibility of bringing something in-dependently along the same lines be-fore a European court, because we absolutely need this kind of legal initiative in the pensions domain."
Furlonger adds that he felt PEPA had adopted an 'excessively confrontational' approach to the case, declaring that any Mercer initiative would be "something less public but more direct".
"We will have to move quickly to keep up the momentum, but also learn from the failings of PEPA, which appears to have scared potential backers through overt challenging of the present system before a reasonable case had been prepared."
Furlonger adds he felt a closed doors meeting between around 20 clients spearheaded by Mercer, with the country of the case carefully selected and the facts methodically presented to the court was the correct way to proceed. "What we mustn't do is hold press conferences with nothing firm on the legal agenda," he said.
Lyn Ellis, vice president of pensions at Anglo-Norwegian multinational Kvaerner, one of the founder members of PEPA, explained the associations retreat from the limelight: "We have reached the consensus that be-cause Commissioner Monti has been giving strong signals he will pursue this question thoroughly via the EC, that our line may have been slightly adversial and a hindrance rather than a help to the cause. "However, although this seems like the right thing to do, I am rather cynical about whether Monti will pull this off.""