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End-2002 remains pensions directive deadline

EUROPE- The Financial Services Policy Group has met in Brussels to consider the political obstacles to the action plan, which includes the pensions directive and the Lamfalussy report. The group discussed political obstacles to, among other things, the proposed pension fund directive (IP/00/1141) with the aim of paving the way for political agreement in the Council by June 2002, with final adoption by December 2002.

Internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein and Director General John Mogg chaired the meeting and the former summed up the conclusions of the action plan’s mid term review last Friday. He said that at the review European parliament members and representatives of the member states and European securities markets concluded that the EU must stick to the target of implementing the plan in full by 2005 and of integrating the securities markets by 2003.

The mid term meeting also pushed for political agreement in the Council by June 2002 on the proposed Directives on financial conglomerates, prospectuses and pension funds, with a view to their final adoption by December 2002,

Those present said that for the deadlines to be realistic close co-operation is needed between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. They suggested that the institutions should try to agree on a single reading or accelerated second readings.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced it is considering harmonising the dozens of corporate governance rules across Europe. The issue of corporate governance has recently been elevated after it was announced that the former chairman of Swedish/Swiss engineering company ABB Percy Barnevik stood to receive a e100m lump sum pension.

The commission has already commissioned a study comparing the 43 different codes that will be examined by a panel of experts appointed by the EC and chaired by Jaap Winter, legal adviser to Unilever. Bolkestein is likely to have the last say on any proposals. The group only has until July to come up with proposals to harmonise the codes otherwise they remain in place.

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