The UK’s new European commissioner for financial services, Jonathan Hill, is set to overhaul the governance and financing of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), with the pensions and insurance industry soon to be fully responsible for all costs.
Hill, who was today confirmed as incoming Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s candidate for the newly formed commission for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union, will also be tasked with fostering greater long-term investment in the European economy.
In a letter from Juncker to the UK commissioner, the former Luxembourg prime minister said Hill’s role would be to review how the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and the European Systemic Risk Board would function.
“Particular attention should be paid to reviewing the governance and the financing of these agencies,” Juncker said.
“On the latter, you should find a way to eliminate EU and national budgetary contributions to the ESAs, which should be wholly financed by the sectors they supervise.”
The recommendations for governance and funding reform follow on from a report, endorsed over the summer by the outgoing European executive, for the funding of the ESAs through an industry levy.
Additionally, the report suggested that EIOPA’s two stakeholder groups – one for occupational pensions, one for the insurance industry – should be merged.
Juncker further tasked Hill to work on greater long-term funding for the European economy, an issue first examined by the current internal markets commission.
The letter said Hill should work with Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness Jyrki Katainen, who in his new role will be in charge of the Commission’s economic portfolios, to outline ways of improving the investment environment within three months of taking office.
It added: “This will include seeking appropriate ways to revive sustainable and high-quality securitisation markets, to reduce the cost of raising capital in the Union and to develop alternatives to our companies’ dependence on bank funding.”
Juncker also called for the creation of a capital markets union by 2019 “with a view to maximising the benefits of capital markets and non-bank financial institutions to the real economy”.
The drive for a capital markets union is likely to focus on ways of encouraging pension investors to increase exposure to real estate and direct lending, two areas previously highlighted.
Despite the loss of the current internal markets commission, with Hill in charge of the portfolio where it relates to financial regulation, incoming internal markets commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska is still likely to have an impact on the pensions agenda.
Juncker instructed the Polish commissioner to ensure a “fully functioning single market for goods and services”, including the free movements of jobs – a matter recently touched on by the supplementary pensions rights directive.