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Budget shift forces EIOPA to cut back work on risk frameworks, solvency

Changes to the 2015 work programme for the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has seen cuts to work on risk-evaluation frameworks for pensions and solvency requirements.

The European Commission and the Council both supported budget cuts and staff freezes at all the European Supervisory Authorities, of which EIOPA is one.

After a 7.6% reduction in budget, the authority has made amendments to its work plan for 2015.

Areas completely scrapped by EIOPA include providing technical advice on the IORP II Directive and in particular the areas around risk-evaluation frameworks for pension scheme board remuneration.

The Directive is currently sitting with the European Parliament after MEPs named former Irish junior minister Brian Hayes as rapporteur, who will now lead negotiations between the Parliament, Commission and Council.

Other areas reassessed by EIOPA include advice to the Commission on solvency requirements for pension schemes – not currently included in the IORP Directive but being worked on by the authority in the form of its holistic balance sheet.

It will also scale back work on the transferability of pension rights and forcing information disclosure, in a raft of reductions affecting its consumer protection programme.

EIOPA said changes to the work programme did not just mean cuts and some policies saw either a reduction in allocated resource or were relegated in priority.

Overall, across its insurance and occupational pensions responsibilities, the authority said 31 products were reduced in scope, 12 downgraded in priority and 27 cut entirely.

A spokesman said: “The limitations faced from human resource and budget perspectives have led to difficult choices, where even high-priority products had to be postponed or even cut.

“Products that are severely hit are to be found in, for instance, the areas of financial stability and consumer protection.”

EIOPA said it would continue working on its overall impact assessment for the IORP Directive despite cuts to its advice.

It said it still planned to run stress tests for pension schemes in 2015, with it remaining a high priority and accounting for 2.8 full-time equivalent employees (FTE).

It said the development of the holistic balance sheet would also remain a high priority, accounting for 0.6 FTE.

EIOPA’s funding has become a contentious issue in recent times, with the European Commission and Parliament set to remove taxpayer funding entirely and introduce an industry levy.

It is currently funded through Commission grants and contributions from national regulators.

Last month, Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) said the new funding regime should be agreed by 2017.

Jonathan Hill, commissioner for Financial Stability and Financial Services, told IPE in an interview in March that, despite the funding shifts, there would not be an overhaul of the way EIOPA functioned.

He said a Commission review showed EIOPA worked well and that no overhaul was foreseen.

However, he added: “It should be possible to achieve [private funding] in a simple way, although it is a bit too early to speculate on any concrete proposal at this stage.”

In November, EIOPA, alongside its fellow ESAs, said budget and staff freezes would hamper policy implementation and did not reflect the additional workload being added simultaneously.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Reads like the standard civil servant reaction to a budget cut. Exaggerate the consequences. It is good to remember that we are talking of a budget cut of less than 8%. If that leads to cutting 27 activities, that would imply EIOPA has at least 338 activities (not counting downgraded activities). Maybe a bit of focus would do them good.

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