EUROPE – A group of eight industry associations has claimed the European Commission ignored issues raised by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) in the implementation process of the new IORP Directive and called on the authority to conduct further impact exercises.

The so-called ‘Group of Eight’ includes the European Association of Paritarian Institutions, BUSINESSEUROPE, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises Providing Public Services, the European Fund and Asset Management Association, the European Federation for Retirement Provision, the European Trade Union Confederation, the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

The group was highly critical of the launch of the first quantitative impact study (QIS) for the introduction of a holistic balance sheet (HBS) approach within the revised IORP Directive.

“The cornerstone of the QIS is the holistic balance sheet tool,” it said. “We continue to question the appropriateness of this tool and fear the outcome of the exercise will be to impose a Solvency II-like framework for pension fund supervision.

“Our concerns have been reinforced after the public consultation run by EIOPA on the draft technical specifications of the QIS in July 2012.”

The Group of Eight welcomed EIOPA’s recognition that the very feasibility of the HBS tool would need to be further investigated.

However, it said it regretted that the Commission ignored these issues in the final QIS specifications, and called on EIOPA to stick to its view to conduct further exercises in future.

The associations went on to say that the process of revising the IORP Directive must be driven by “realistic timelines”, as well as “truly aim at improving the adequacy and sustainability of occupational pensions in Europe”.

“The QIS, which is an important step in the revision process, will have a big impact on the valuation methods for pension assets and liabilities, and thus on the willingness of enterprises to continue to offer pensions through the workplace,” they added.

The Group of Eight also referred to the initiative on long-term investing announced by Brussels earlier this year and called on the Commission to incorporate the results of the debate into the revised IORP Directive.

“At the moment,” it said, “it feels as if the potential new IORP rules push for short-term security at the expense of long-term investment and pension adequacy.

“Whilst it is important to ensure the right balance between security and investment, it is also important to avoid contradictory processes within the European Commission.”