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Solvency II top priority for new CEA president

Sergio Balbino, the managing director of Italy’s Generali Group, has been elected president of the CEA.

He will serve a three-year term after being elected at the European insurance and reinsurance federation’s general assembly in Athens yesterday.

Setting out the priorities for his term, Mr Balbinot referred to the complexities of drawing up the detail of the new Solvency II regime ahead of implementation in 2013, and stressed the need to ensure that the rules enhance the resilience of EU insurance companies: "We must get Solvency II right and the whole insurance industry is firmly committed to aligning its levels of capital against the underlying risks.

"However such a development should not harm the strategic role fulfilled by the industry in the modern economy."

He added: "In the current environment, the work of insurers is vital in removing risks from society, in filling the gap left by the reduced role of state pension systems in retirement provision, and in acting as long-term and conservative investors.

"All of these key roles could be undermined if Solvency II is not properly calibrated. The correct implementation of Solvency II is therefore vital for Europe’s insurers, for its economy and for consumer protection. The CEA will contribute to ensure that the principles of the Solvency II Framework Directive are upheld and that the new regulatory framework is appropriate and fit for purpose."

Mr Balbinot went on to explain that his presidential strategy will involve working with CEA member associations to "develop the best possible business environment for Europe’s insurers, championing best practice and creating an environment in which they can innovate and grow".

"Here I would highlight the macro-economic debates on systemic risk, the discussions on pensions and the level playing field with pension providers, the development of global standards and accounting rules as challenges," he stated.

Mr Balbinot’s speech also mentioned the industry’s focus on environmental issues and climate change. "The federation is keen to cooperate with the public and private sector wherever possible in setting up risk management frameworks to deal with natural disasters," he said.

"The industry has a wealth of expertise and knowledge, and I will be seeking to facilitate ways that insurers can collaborate with government bodies to reduce the devastating effects of catastrophes."

He succeeds Tommy Persson, senior advisor to Sweden’s largest non-life insurer LÄnsfÖrsÄkringar.

Mr Balbinot joined Generali in 1983. Since April 2002 he has held the position of managing director with responsibility for all Generali’s international insurance business and its technical and actuarial activities in Italy and abroad, as well as research and development.