More needed for pan-European funds

More will need to be done for pan-European pension funds and cross-border activities to “grow and blossom”, European pension fund representatives told the sixth annual IPE Awards seminar.

ABP’s pension director and European Federation for Retirement Provision president Jaap Maassen said: “I am optimistic and see progress, but there are some barriers that still need to be removed before pan-European pension funds can grow and blossom.”

Particularly, Maassen, called for a more transparent overview of the requirements of European supervisors, as “hot issues” such as full funding are not presented clearly enough by the various supervisors.

Michael Atzwanger, managing director of the South Tyrol based €500m open pension fund PensPlan, mentioned language problems and taxation issues as the main practical barriers in the discussion between European pension funds.

He told delegates: “It will take lots of years before pan-European pension funds will emerge.” And he called European member states to open themselves up to cross-border and pan-European developments.

“The issue of cross-border activities is not only of importance for larger pension schemes as those of for instance BP or Shell, but also for smaller firms,” he said.

Atzwanger warned that it will be “very risky” for countries that close themselves off from the IORP directive.

Maassen made some very positive noises about how ABP was looking into cross-border, saying: “The board of trustees of ABP is currently considering this very issue.” He added that this requires setting up a legal structure “which is under construction”. Phillip Neyt, chairman the Belgian Association of Pension Institutions (BVPI), revealed more about Belgium’s efforts to establish Belgium as a pan-European pension fund domicile, saying that new legislation would come coming into force on 1 January next year.

Belgium, which is seeking to become domicile under the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive, wants to attract large European pension funds through exemption from VAT and lower corporation tax, Neyt said.

Promoting his country as one of the forerunners in the run-up to pan-European pension funds, Neyt argued at the IPE Awards that Belgium would be the most attractive country for cross-border schemes.



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