Michel Barnier’s speech on European pension reform

Michel Barnier, member of the European Commission, responsible for internal market and services spoke yesterday on the topic of a single market for occupational pensions. We present his speech below.

I know that you are the best European experts in the field of pension funds and I thank you for coming in such large numbers to participate in a discussion which I am sure will be productive.

Today’s conference is an essential step for the Commission in our preparations of the revision of the Pension Funds Directive. I would like to express my thanks to my Directorate General and in particular to Karel van Hulle, head of unit for insurance and pensions, his Director Mario Nava and all their colleagues for having organised this public hearing.

I also know that the revision of the Pension Funds Directive is a source of concern for many of you.

I have to say that the press does little to allay these concerns. Some newspapers claim that the revision of the Directive will cost European businesses EUR 800 billion or more. They also claim that an extension of the Solvency II Directive to cover pension funds is planned and would abolish defined-benefit occupational pension schemes.

In order to dispel such hyperbole, I would like to begin by providing the following clarifications.

Firstly, by way of warning against jumping the gun, I would point out that we have not yet put forward any proposals!

Secondly, I would clarify that I have never said or implied that pension funds could be subject to exactly the same rules as those set out under Solvency II. If that had been our intention, we would have made the proposal back in 2007 when we were submitting the Solvency II Directive. We did not do so because we are aware of the key role played by occupational pensions in the Member States’ pension schemes.

 

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