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New European Parliament to tackle IORP II Directive, Brussels confirms

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  • The European Commission

Klaus Wiedner, head of the unit that oversees insurance and pensions at the European Commission’s Internal Market and Services division, has confirmed that the next draft on the revised IORP Directive might be postponed to January and will not be voted on by the current Parliament.

Speaking on a panel at this year’s EIOPA conference in Frankfurt, he said: “There is still the plan that there will be an initiative published at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”

He said it was “basically impossible” to push through a revised Directive under the current legislature, and that the new Parliament would “deal with it” after the election.

EU commissioner Michel Barnier, in his closing speech at the conference, made no mention of any timeframe for the revised IORP Directive.

However, he reiterated that the Directive would not cover solvency rules. He said he wanted to be “very clear” on the point that the Directive would deal only with the governance and transparency of pension funds. 

“Along with trying to solve cross-border issues,” he added, “our aim is to create a framework in which pension funds can grow – especially in member states where they hardly exist today.”

Barnier said EU member states that already had a developed pension fund sector with a high standard of transparency “should not be greatly impacted by this proposal”.

Speaking with IPE, Wiedner confirmed rumours that the current draft had not passed the Impact Assessment Board (IAB), an advisory body to the Commission.

He declined to provide details on which parts had been criticised, pointing out that the IAB only had an advisory role and no right to veto.

“We will see which of the comments we are going to take into account – in the end, it is still a political decision,” he said.

Wiedner said the European Commission was still discussing “the right scope” for the new Directive, which he said needed to be revised for a number of reasons, including the ongoing shift from defined benefit to defined contribution.

Further, it “has not worked to facilitate cross-border pensions”, as “there are barriers linked to the current Directive”.

As an example, Wiedner mentioned the requirement stipulating that schemes must be fully funded at all times when going cross border.

Wiedner reassured industry representatives in the room that the Commission’s idea was “not to copy what we have in Solvency II – we know that IORPs are different”.

He added: “We are looking at raising the standards we have in the current Directive, adjusting them to the current situation.”

On another panel, Ralf Jacob, head of unit for Social Protection at the Commission, said his directorate general wanted the Portability Directive adopted before the elections to the European Parliament in May.

“Afterwards,” he said, “there will be 3-4 years of transition.”

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