UK – The UK says it expects to be “fully compliant” with the European occupational pension directive by its deadline next year.

“The UK expects to be fully compliant with the directive by September 2005,” said the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority in its May bulletin. European Union member states must implement the directive, Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision, by that date.

Opra added: “In areas where UK legislation doesn’t already meet the requirements, this will be achieved through the legislative changes already underway through the current Pensions Bill and any later regulations.”

Opra also reported on its involvement in the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors, or CEIOPS. It said the group’s first meeting in Budapest on March 22 drafted terms of reference and a working plan.

“The real work will start to get underway at the working group meeting in late May. The group expects to work towards a common understanding of the directive, so that it can consider the systems needed for appropriate co-operation and co-ordination between the supervisors for cross-border pension arrangements.”

Opra called the task “fairly daunting”, but said the group is enthusiastic about the job ahead.

Meanwhile, outgoing Opra chairman Harriet Maunsell says the replacement pensions regulator could be in place within a year – though there were “uncertainties” about developing codes of practice.

“We do not yet know exactly how long it will take to produce each code, nor do we know precisely how much will be needed by way of resources,” she said in the bulletin.

“We are working towards a start date of April 2005 for the Regulator; once in existence it will be required under the legislation to issue a number of codes.”

She admitted the timetable was “demanding” and called for understanding from the industry.

She also said the Pensions Bill’s requirement for trustees to have appropriate knowledge and understanding will be flexible. She said that the government “intends to allow a period of grace for newly appointed trustees to acquire the appropriate knowledge and understanding”.

“Not all the details of the legislation are yet known; but it is already clear that the requirements must be practical, and compatible with the voluntary basis on which most trustees undertake their responsibilities.”