In a statement issued earlier this month, Mr Barnier said
that, while the review of the Institutions for Occupational Retirement
Provision, or IORP, Directive would be inspired by the Solvency II approach ‘when
appropriate’ it would not ‘copy and paste’ the new insurance industry rules.
‘I want to maintain a level playing field within the
Single Market. This means it is important that the same products and activities
are subject to the same requirements, regardless of the structure of the
providers,’ he said.
‘But it does not mean I will propose the extension of
Solvency II as such to pension funds.’
Mr Barnier’s comments come against the backdrop of
continued concern over the impact Solvency II-type rules could have on pension
funds. Earlier this month, unions, pension funds and business leaders wrote to the
president of the European Commission warning that such a move could damage
Europe’s long-term economic growth.
By demanding dramatic increases to employers’ funding for
schemes, the rules could drive businesses into insolvencies and increase job
losses, they said.
But, in his statement, Mr Barnier said that while he had
seen various estimates of the impact of Solvency II on pension funds, ‘these
make no sense at all because we won’t copy and paste Solvency II into pension
He explained: ‘In no way do I want to take actions which
could undermine the supply of occupational pension provision. We need pension
funds to continue playing their role as long-term investors, as this is
essential for long-term jobs and growth.’
Mr Barnier said he was ‘well aware’ that companies could
not be asked to lock up capital in their pension funds when they needed access
to finance to grow and compete. He also stressed the different features pension
funds have one from EU member state to another. ‘I don’t want to penalise well
functioning systems,’ he said.
‘That is why our review of the IORP Directive will be
done in such a way that is supports Europe’s growth potential.’
He said the proposals he would make by the end of 2012
would be based on ‘in-depth impact assessments’. In particular, he said the
quantitative impact study to be carried out by the European Insurance and
Occupational Pensions Authority would be ‘essential’ in estimating the financial
impact of various proposals.
Last week, EIOPA submitted its advice on the
review of the IORP Directive to the commission, and Mr Barnier confirmed this
would be discussed at a public hearing being held in Brussels on March 1.