EUROPE – The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) expects responses to the first quantitative impact study (QIS) for the revised IORP Directive to be sent by national regulators later on this week but will not start analysing the data before early January.
A spokeswoman from the authority told IPE that all the responses to the first QIS submitted by the pension industry were still with national regulators, which will most likely transfer them to EIOPA before Friday.
The QIS, which runs until today, aims to assess the financial impact of different sets of options for the valuation of the HBS and the calculation of capital requirements.
It also considers the quantification of the security and benefit adjustment mechanisms existing in different EU member states.
According to EIOPA, nine European countries where defined benefit plans are most prevalent volunteered to participate in the study: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.
The authority now plans to start analysing the data in early January with the view to publishing a report on the QIS outcome by the end of Q1 2013.
Under the plan originally set by the Commission, the European authority was expected to launch the QIS in early May, with a view to publishing its results at the end of September, as Brussels was hoping to introduce a draft version of the new Directive before the end of this year.
However, following talks with EIOPA, Michel Barnier, commissioner for the internal market, agreed to delay the launch of the first QIS exercise to October and confirmed at the InsuranceEurope conference in Amsterdam earlier this year that the Commission would not publish any proposals on the revised IORP Directive before summer 2013.
Barnier said at the time: "Given the complexity and importance of this issue, and particularly the need for first-rate quantitative impact assessments, I have decided to take a few more months to finalise the revision."
Some in the pensions industry have questioned the "tight" deadline imposed by Brussels and the need to implement an HBS within the Directive.
In its response to the first QIS, the UK National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) criticised the "short, eight-week timeframe" given for providing feedback on the Solvency II-based regulation.
Joanne Segars, NAPF chief executive, said: "Pension schemes were given far too little time to carry out complex calculations, and the costs involved in running them were high. This has stopped many pension schemes from giving feedback."
The NAPF went on to argue that the HBS fails to provide an accurate valuation of an employer's support of a pension, particularly in complex groups and in schemes with a degree of government support.
Segars therefore called on the Commission to conduct further rounds of impact studies as required by EIOPA when the authority sent its technical advice for the conduct of the QIS to the Commission in September this year.
At the time, EIOPA said it had identified a number of areas in the technical specifications that needed to be further developed and tested in follow-up QIS exercises.
Speaking with IPE today, the spokeswoman for the authority stressed that the decision to launch further impact studies remained with the Commission.
"We will send our conclusion report on the first QIS to the Commission at the end of Q1 next year," she said.
"From there, Brussels will then have to decide whether further rounds of QISes need to be conducted."