New man at EFRP

He may be a new broom, but Angel Martinez-Aldama will be sweeping up much of the same old dust, finds George Coats

Angel Martinez-Aldama found a full in-tray when he took over from Jaap Maassen as chairman of the European Federation of Retirement Provision (EFRP) in October.

"The main issues now on the table are the same that we had in the last years," he says. "They include the implementation of the IORP directive, how the solvency regime of IORPs will develop over time, the co-operation with CEIOPS, and intensifying our links with new members from central and eastern Europe."

This is very much the agenda spelled out by Maassen when he took over four years earlier. "I don't foresee that there should be any change in EFRP policy," Martinez-Aldama told IPE. "I have been a member of the EFRP board for a long time and I was vice-chairman during Jaap's mandate."

A smooth transition was necessary. The closing months of last year saw the EFRP fighting off pressure for an early review the EU's IORP directive. The directive - which was supposed to be implemented by all member states in September 2005 although many missed the deadline - is still bedding down and in a November report the EFRP claimed it would be premature to assess its performance let alone consider changes. "In Europe all advances should be considered on a medium-term not a short-term basis," he says.

And the EFRP is opposed to the automatic extension of Solvency II to pension funds. Martinez-Aldama welcomes European commissioner Charlie McCreevy's recent assertion that further work is needed before EU member states can commit themselves to the Solvency II regime. McCreevy was addressing the European insurance and occupational pensions supervisors' committee, CEIOPS - an organisation that often fails to see eye-to-eye with the EFRP.

Martinez-Aldama is diplomatic. "The CEIOPS members are national supervisors and so have different voices and sensibilities," he says. "The most important factor is that while Solvency II should be applicable to insurance companies, pension funds have elements that are quite different from insurers and so we must ensure that any solvency rules applied to pension funds are quite different from those applied to insurers."

And the integration of pensions groupings from central and eastern Europe into the EFRP has not gone as smoothly as hoped.

"One of the consequences of their reforms is that many of these countries are incurring current deficits to save in the medium and long term," says Martinez-Aldama. "However, if the European Commission or Eurostat don't change their attitude on taking these deficits into account when calculating compliance under the Maastricht Treaty they are sending a message to other countries, especially in western Europe, that they should never attempt any more than just parametric reforms. And from an economic point of view, if they are taking into account these deficits, why not include the hidden liabilities of the PAYG system?"

Last year the EFRP established the Central & Eastern European Forum to assist the integration of the region's pension funds into the European mainstream.

But will Martinez-Aldama's appointment have any impact on the EFRP? It is suggested that although he faces are the same issues as Maassen, his different background may be reflected in a new approach. Maassen has worked for major institutions and came to the EFRP from the board of ABP, one of Europe's largest pension funds. Martinez-Aldama comes from the secretariat of an industry organisation, Inverco, and so may expected to be closer to the day-to-day running of the EFRP and have a more hands-on approach.

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