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Germany’s aba criticises EIOPA pan-European DC survey

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Germany’s occupational pensions association has strongly criticised a survey carried out by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) on a proposed pan-European occupational defined contribution (DC) framework.

The idea is to encourage and develop an internal market for second pillar pensions in the EU, with a focus on DC. EIOPA sees its work on facilitating more cross-border activity as being in line with the revised IORP Directive and its mandate to facilitate supervisory convergence.

But there is resistance to this in some quarters.

aba, Germany’s occupational pensions association, claimed the survey did not address certain key issues, such as whether respondents think such a framework was needed, and what the evidence was for this.

The association also questioned whether EIOPA had the mandate and powers to set up a pan-European occupational DC framework, which would require “fundamental” social, labour, tax, and supervisory issues to be addressed.

It also claimed that the questions EIOPA asked suggested the supervisory authority was more interested in getting respondents to agree with certain statements than in identifying problems and solutions.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), the UK pensions trade body, did not respond to the survey, partly because of a lack of appetite for running cross-border schemes among its members.

James Walsh, EU and international policy lead at the PLSA, told IPE: “It is quite clear that EIOPA are keen to press ahead with this whole project for establishing a framework for pan-European occupational DC schemes. We don’t detect any great demand for that and we don’t see how you can easily circumvent the difficulties that arise from having different national tax systems, and different national regulatory systems.”

An EIOPA spokeswoman emphasised to IPE that the survey was a first step to gauge stakeholders’ initial views on and potential appetite for a pan-European occupational DC framework.

“The questionnaire included a number of open questions inviting stakeholders to provide additional comments and, for instance, bring up issues that may not be covered in the questionnaire,” she added.

She said that EIOPA was welcoming all the comments and ideas from the stakeholders, “many positive but also negative ones”.

EIOPA has said that it would feed responses to the survey into a discussion paper that it planned to publish later in the year.

“The discussion paper will outline early stage proposals to foster the development of cross-border activities in Europe and give the opportunity for all stakeholders to submit their first views,” it said.

EIOPA is organising a workshop next month as a follow-up to the survey to gain a better understanding of the views shared by stakeholders, according to the spokeswoman. It is also engaging with the authority’s Occupational Pensions Stakeholders Group.

EIOPA floated the idea of a pan-European occupational DC framework in late 2015. It has said that such a framework “would outline a number of proposals seeking to foster the further development of cross-border activities for occupational DC pensions in Europe”. These proposals could take the form of a pan-European occupational DC scheme or a “good practice guide”. 

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