Critics of the pension industry have praised the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) for deciding not to recommend a EU-wide solvency regime for defined benefit (DB) schemes.
In its opinion paper, EIOPA advised not to harmonise capital or funding requirements based on the holistic balance sheet (HBS) "at this point in time".
It said it was because the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORPs) across Europe "are very heterogeneous and are experiencing different challenges".
"EIOPA believes that the introduction of a one-size-fits-all framework with harmonised capital or funding requirements at this point in time will not be effective to meet these challenges," it said.
However, EIOPA recommended a new common framework for risk assessment to calculate the impact on a common framework balance sheet of an IORP.
EIOPA has recently dropped the HBS term and replaced it with common framework balance sheet to reflect the changes.
The new proposal recommends IORPs across Europe be required to produce and disclose, on a regular basis, a market-consistent balance sheet and the outcome of standardised risk assessment.
Hymans Robertson partner Calum Cooper described EIOPA's proposal to ditch the solvency funding regime as a "sigh of relief in the corridors of companies sponsoring DB schemes".
He said: "If a solvency-based regime had been implemented it would have added around £400bn to balance sheets across the UK."
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) also welcomed the proposal. It said if the HBS had been implemented in the UK, the combined deficit of defined benefit pension schemes would have increased to 967bn (£770bn), up from 318bn (£253bn) under the current UK regime.
Joanne Segars, chief executive at the PLSA, said: "It is good news for pension schemes in the UK and Europe and a result our member pension schemes have campaigned tirelessly to reach".
However, she argued the new proposal on reporting regimes would add 210m (£167m) a year to costs and would cause "unnecessary confusion without delivering any benefit to scheme members".
"We believe there are more pressing priorities for EIOPA to pursue such as extending workplace pension savings to the 60% of EU citizens who have no access to it at present," Segars stated.
"Abandoning the solvency project is a good decision, but EIOPA should now go further and drop the holistic balance sheet altogether."
PensionsEurope welcomed the decision, but still had concerns about the proposed common framework for risk management.
Janwillem Bouma, chair of PensionsEurope, said: "Risk management is essential for IORPs and they regularly carry out their own stress tests and scenario analyses (e.g. asset and liability management studies) as part of their own risk management processes. EIOPA proposes an additional framework, which we find unnecessary and it is costly."