Pan-European defined benefit (DB) pension schemes face “obstacles” under the new
EU directives, according to Anne Maher, head of the Irish pensions regulator.
Maher said different funding levels across schemes would be a “serious obstacle” to efforts to develop pan-European DB plans. “If a multinational tried to do it, I can’t see it working in practice,” she told a Dublin conference.
Maher admitted that no-one had yet put their head above the parapet on such plans. “It probably needs some courage to be the first player,” she said. “To spend some money.”
Alan Pickering, outgoing chairman of the European Federation for Retirement Provision, foresaw no fiscal impediment to pan-European plans. “The tax authorities are quite sanguine. They know how to do a deal,” he said. “I think the tax obstacles will evaporate quite quickly.”
Maher warned that it was up to regulators to make sure that the pension fund directive did not descend into a mess. “I don’t think it will lead to chaos,” she said but warned there could be “open season”.
The dangers of lax transposition from EU directive to national legislation was the subject of a meeting in Brussels of national regulators and ministries.
Maher reckoned about 80 questions would be put to the EC. “Even though I am optimistic, it’s quite unlikely that member states will come back with all the answers,” she said.