On 27.5.2009, the European Commission in Brussels organized a public on the harmonisation of solvency rules applicable to Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORPs). The objective of the hearing was to draw the first conclusions from the public consultation carried out in 2008. There is still no clear indication of the Commission, as to what further action should be taken.
Commission regards solvability rules as indispensable in times of crisis
Jörgen Holmquist, Director-General of Internal Market and Services at the European Commission, emphasised in his introductory statement that trust would play an important role in particular in times of crisis and that therefore solvability rules would be indispensable. The question, however, remains whether further harmonisation is needed at EU level. This opinion was also expressed by Elemer Tertak, Director Financial Institutions within the EU Internal Market Commission, who added that a high level of security and guarantee would have utmost priority for pensioners. He also mentioned the importance of international accountability. First, one would analyse the 60 responses of the consultation carried out and then decide which concrete steps the Commission will take.

Pension funds have first and foremost a social responsibility
A representative of European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) pointed out that pension funds would first and foremost have a social responsibility to fulfil and were therefore required to act accordingly. The ETUC would be more and more in support of regulation, as there was otherwise the danger that people would act according to the motto “What is not forbidden is allowed”. The simple aim was to safeguard and maintain the rights of pensioners. It remains now to be seen whether an internal market for occupational pensions would come into being and if so, if additional rules would be required. How difficult it can be to find common rules is demonstrated by the “Portability Directive”, which has been blocked for years at Council level and which was supposed to coordinate the occupational old-age security at EU level. The fact that no agreement has been reached by the Member States, means that in particular the mobile workers are the ones to suffer. Their occupational pension schemes are simply not equipped with unified EU-wide regulations. In particular in times, where workers are required to be mobile, this presents an unacceptable state of affairs, which has to be tackled as quickly as possible.

Further information:

Information on the public hearing and consultation