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PensionsEurope warns of 'continued threat' of IORP capital requirements

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The threat of the European Commission introducing solvency rules for pension funds remains, the chairman of PensionsEurope has warned.

In May, internal markets commissioner Michel Barnier announced that the Commission would postpone the introduction of capital requirements, part of the revised IORP Directive’s first pillar. 

Joanne Segars, also the chief executive of the UK’s National Association of Pension Funds, told the PensionsEurope conference in Frankfurt this week: “The proposals are not dead yet and EIOPA [the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority] continues to do work on that issue.”

She added Barnier still wanted to see a level playing field established for the various pension providers.

“To me this does not sound very single-market but rather like a problem on a national level,” Segars added.

According to the PensionsEurope chairman, EIOPA plans to present Barnier’s successor – to be appointed next year following the European elections – with a fully-fledged proposal for solvency requirements for pension funds.

“There is a continued threat of new solvency rules for occupational pensions, she warned.

EIOPA has previously said it would be conducting a total of five consultations on issues impacting the Holistic Balance Sheet (HBS), including the recently concluded one on sponsor support.

Segar stressed that Europe could not “have a one-size-fits-all solution” and pointed out a risk and solvency assessment for pension funds (ORSA) could lead to a lot more work for pensions funds, as well as increased need for external advice by consultants – which was “good news for consultants”.

She called on the European Commission to focus more on the “real pension crisis Europe was facing” rather than increasing regulation.

“Sixty percent of EU citizens have no access to workplace pensions, but I seldom hear the Commission talking about expanding occupational pensions,” criticised Segars.

Meanwhile, she noted the market still expected a new IORP II proposal to be published before Christmas but added that she expected “they [the Commission] meant this Christmas”, referring to previous delays.

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