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04 December 2012

IPE: Brussels planning to 'water down' IORP capital requirements

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The European Commission is considering watering down the first pillar of the revised IORP Directive focusing on capital requirements, according to industry experts.

Philip Neyt, managing director at the pension fund for Belgacom, said that his discussions with members of the European Commission during the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) conference in Frankfurt last month suggested that Brussels was thinking of changing its implementation plan for the revised IORP Directive. Charles Vaquier, chief executive at French pension fund UMR, echoed Neyt's comments, arguing that Brussels would not proceed on the first pillar as planned.

In Frankfurt, Van Hulle confirmed that Brussels would not impose Solvency II capital requirements on pension funds' past rights but only on accruing rights.

Industry figures had argued that imposing capital requirements on both accrued and accruing rights would have had a major impact on European occupational pensions. According to Charles Vaquier, Brussels will instead aim to introduce the second and third pillars of the Directive, which focus on qualitative requirements (comprising rules on governance and the supervisory review process) and transparency requirements (comprising rules on disclosure, both to regulators and to members). He said that, in the case of UMR, the French scheme would need to employ "at least" two more people to comply with the new governance requirements [pillar two].

And Neyt said European pension funds would face similar costs when the third pillar of the Directive was introduced, as this would "inevitably" push European schemes to review their IT systems to comply with the new reporting rules. 

But Chris Verhaegen, chair of EIOPA's Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group, was sceptical about the timetable, not to mention the plausibility of the Commission dropping the first pillar.

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© IPE International Publishers Ltd.

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