EUROPE – The European Commission cannot expect the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) to release the preliminary results on the first quantitative impact study (QIS) for the revised IORP Directive by the end of January 2013, according to one member of the authority.
Moderating a panel on pension regulations at the EIOPA conference in Frankfurt today, Carlos Montalvo, executive director at the authority, said it was "unfeasible" for EIOPA to send its preliminary results to the Commission in January.
Brussels approved the technical methodology for the first QIS in mid-October and called on EIOPA at the time to release its results on the QIS as early as end of January 2013.
The QIS, launched mid-October, aims to assess the holistic balance sheet (HBS) approach within the revised IORP Directive and will run until end of December.
Montalvo said: "We have already said we will not consider Christmas an end-year for the industry to respond to the QIS because we know there are other priorities. We want a good QIS, and, for that, we need a little bit of time."
But Karel Van Hulle, market and services head of unit at the European Commission, pointed out that Brussels had to start work on the directive by the beginning of next year if it wanted to publish a draft version of the revised directive by next summer.
"To do so," he added, "we will need to have access to EIOPA's preliminary results on the QIS as soon as possible.
"People need to realise that, if you want a level playing field and a consistent approach between insurers and pensions, you cannot wait. I admit this is difficult, but we should be courageous and ambitious."
Responding to Van Hulle's comments, Joanne Segars – chief executive at the UK National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) and newly appointed chair at PensionsEurope – said the European Commission and the pensions industry should take as much time as they needed to fully assess the impact of an HBS on occupational pensions.
"It just seems unbelievable that we will get to a draft of the revised directive on the basis of one QIS, especially if we compare with the five QISs the insurance industry has gone through for the introduction of the Solvency II directive," she said.
"This is not feasible and would have devastating consequences on the pension industry, as this could lead to wrong decisions taken, which could stay for a very long time."
A report released earlier this week by the UK Pensions Regulator claimed that Solvency II-type rules for pensions could cost the UK industry as much as £400bn (€497bn).
Van Hulle said: "I don't know about the real costs, but the only way to know is to have access to data and numbers around the table from the first QIS to go the next step so we can replace emotions with facts."