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IPE special report May 2018

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European Commission to push ahead with revised IORP Directive

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  • Jonathan Hill

The European Commission is set to push ahead with the revised IORP Directive, with the legislation not among the dozens of proposals earmarked for withdrawal in a draft of the executive’s work programme.

The 2015 Work Programme, set to be published on 16 December, outlines president Jean-Claude Juncker’s priorities for the coming year and highlights the launch of the Commission’s €300bn investment plan, among other measures to stimulate growth.

The undated draft of the work programme seen by IPE is likely to have been circulated at a meeting of Commission vice-presidents earlier this week.

It listed the action plan on the Capital Markets Union and a framework to wind up systemically important financial institutions, such as clearing houses, as two of the new measures the Commission would prioritise in 2015.

In the draft work programme’s preamble, the Commission noted that the European Fund for Strategic Investments would only form part of the €300bn investment programme, with the use of “innovative” financial instruments key.

It also identified the completion of the “significant overhaul” of financial regulation in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis as a major area of its work.

“The financial regulatory framework,” it added, “will be further strengthened by a proposal dealing with crisis management and resolution of non-bank systemic entities.”

Jonathan Hill, commissioner for financial services, previously told a parliamentary hearing he would like to publish a proposal tackling the risk of clearing house bankruptcy early next year.

The draft further identified 80 proposals that would either be withdrawn or modified, many of which are directives and regulation that have stalled due to lack of support from member states.

Despite being listed as “under review” in a November letter from Juncker and Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, the IORP Directive was not among the 80 proposals to be abandoned or substantially modified.

Hill told journalists in Brussels earlier this week it would be “odd” to withdraw the revised IORP Directive now, when the Council of the EU had, under the Italian presidency, agreed a number of changes over the course of four compromise drafts.

The Council most recently finalised its negotiating mandate with the European Parliament, although no MEP has been appointed as rapporteur to oversee its passage through the chamber. 

Dave Roberts, senior consultant at Towers Watson in the UK, noted that the withdrawal of the revised IORP Directive so soon after Michel Barnier published it risked being perceived as “openly critical” of the former commissioner’s work.

Roberts also noted the problems that could have arisen due to the commissioners currently involved.

“Given that Mr Timmermans is Dutch and that the Commissioner now in charge of IORP II, Jonathan Hill, is from the UK, withdrawing the Directive could lead to accusations of national bias – with the Netherlands and UK leading antagonists of IORP II,” he said.

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