EUROPE - The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has launched the first quantitative impact study (QIS) for the implementation of a holistic balance sheet (HBS) within the revised directive for occupational pensions.

The QIS, which will run until 17 December, will assess the financial impact of different sets of options for the valuation of the HBS and the calculation of capital requirements, according to EIOPA.

Additionally, the impact study exercise will assess the quantification of the security and benefit adjustment mechanisms existing in different EU member states.

As EIOPA previously pointed out, only defined benefit (DB) pension plans will take part in the exercise, while pure defined contribution schemes will be excluded.

"In order to facilitate the participation in the QIS of smaller IORPs, EIOPA developed so-called 'helper tabs' - spreadsheets that will assist IORPs in valuing sponsor support and pension protection schemes by using simplifications," the authority said.

Nine European countries, in which DB plans are most prevalent, have volunteered to participate in the study: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.

While national supervisory authorities will be responsible for conducting the impact studies in their respective countries, EIOPA will coordinate the QIS at the European level.

Once the exercises have been completed, EIOPA will analyse the data received with the view to publishing a report on the QIS outcome by spring 2013.

Gabriel Bernardino, EIOPA's chairman, said: "I am pleased we have been able to take this important step in the development of a new European framework for occupational pension funds.

"In our advice to the European Commission, we proposed the holistic balance sheet concept as a means to capture the wide diversity of retirement systems in a single prudential regime."

Bernardino also said that the QIS would allow EIOPA to investigate "the feasibility of implementing the HBS in practice".

As previously announced by IPE, EIOPA submitted its draft technical specifications on the launch of the QIS to the Commission earlier this month after it received 117 responses from across Europe to its consultation process.