On 20 September 2017, PensionsEurope responded to the questionnaire on the Interim Report of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. In our response, we make several suggestions on how to enhance pension funds’ role in sustainable finance and long-term investment. Pension funds are natural long-term investors and can play an important role in funding green projects, provided they are not unduly constrained by regulation. We have commented on ideas in the Interim Report that aim to improve information for investors through initiatives such as bond labels, a taxonomy of sustainable assets and corporate reporting. We highlight our concerns on the practicalities and usefulness of integrating ESG risks in stress tests. We also argue any reporting requirements for pension funds should focus on measurable and objective information, while imposing a proportionate additional administrative burden. Please find our response here.
The EU’s High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable finance published its early recommendations on 13 July. PensionsEurope welcomes the initiative and will work with members to respond to the public consultation that will be launched shortly and is expected to run until mid-September.
You can read our press release here.
Today, the European Commission has published a proposal for a Regulation on a Pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP). PensionsEurope welcomes the proposal as a way to increase the overall pension savings and as one of the building blocks of the Capital Markets Union.
You can find the press release here
8 June 2017 - Today, PensionsEurope presents two new papers at the PensionsEurope conference 2017:
You can find the press release here.
In its answer to the to the European Commission consultation on the operations of the European Supervisory Authorities, PensionsEurope e.g. stresses that the current powers and tools of the ESAs are more than sufficient related to IORPs. Taking into account the fact that IORPs are built on a foundation of national social, labour and tax law, they should be mainly supervised by national supervisory authorities.
PensionsEurope is not in favour of granting additional powers to EIOPA to require more information from IORPs. New requirements should be introduced only if the expected benefits clearly outweigh additional costs.
IORPs should not be treated as purely financial service providers. Their social function and the triangular relationship between an employee, an employer, and an IORP should be adequately acknowledged and supported by the ESAs.
The ESAs should refrain from impinging upon the right of initiative of the European Commission to come up with new legislative initiatives that go beyond the existing framework of the single rulebook. As an example, we would like to draw attention to the efforts of EIOPA towards a pan-European occupational DC framework (in the second pillar).
PensionsEurope finds that it was a good decision to create two stakeholder groups within EIOPA (the Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group (IRSG) and the Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group (OPSG)). This division enables the OPSG to properly discuss issues relating to occupational pensions.
PensionsEurope published its opinion on the research on the quality and outcome of pension savings today on 26 April 2017. You can read PensionsEurope press release here. Particularly, PensionsEurope remarks are addressed to Better Finance and its report “Pension savings – the real return” that aims to show the real returns of pension savings in various countries.
PensionsEurope welcomes the research on the quality of occupational and personal pensions and the outcome of pension savings. PensionsEurope highlights numerous specificities that the research should take into account in order to give a realistic picture of the quality and outcome of pension savings. If ignoring these specificities, the research faces a serious challenge of comparing apples and pears.
PensionsEurope is willing and ready to cooperate with Better Finance in order to improve the methodology of its report. Particularly, PensionsEurope invites Better Finance to use the data and time periods which are consistent and comparable, focus on both the accumulation and payout phase, and explore the benefits in addition to the costs.
Following the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty, the EU and the UK will start the negotiations of Brexit.
Janwillem Bouma, Chair of PensionsEurope, said:
“It is of paramount importance that the pension rights accumulated before and after Brexit of EU and UK beneficiaries living in the UK and EU respectively are protected as well as the rights of people who are already retired. The functioning of cross-border schemes should be also taken into account”.
You can find the press release here
In its answer to the European Commission (EC) public consultation on the Capital Markets Union (CMU) mid-term review 2017, PensionsEurope lists numerous actions that the EC should take in order to complete the current CMU programme. Particularly, PensionsEurope gives policy recommendations on fostering long-term investments in infrastructure and real estate, on sustainable investments and on the use of derivatives to hedge risks. For example, PensionsEurope notes that there should be enough “big” investment opportunities available across Europe that match pension funds’ needs.
After two years from the publication of the EC’s green paper Building a capital markets union, PensionsEurope stresses that there is still a lot to do for the EC and Member States. PensionsEurope calls for them to remove all the remaining barriers to cross-border investment, and particularly:
- More standardization and transparent information would increase pension funds’ investments in alternative investments, such as: non-listed companies, private equity and debt, real estate, and infrastructure;
- The upcoming code of conduct on withholding tax (WHT) relief principles should be ambitious and PensionsEurope would also welcome a Directive in this field.
PensionsEurope highlights that legislation should never discourage long-term investments. Therefore, imposing inappropriate quantitative measures or capital requirements on pension funds, or imposing a short term risk free discount rate to value their liabilities would have negative effects on pension funds’ investment capabilities. Furthermore, because of negative consequences to the real economy and pensions, a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) should not be introduced, or at least pension funds should be fully excluded from it.
As promoter of workplace pensions, PensionsEurope invites the EC to investigate how to increase the good implementation of the IORP II Directive in countries with low or no workplace pensions.
PensionsEurope welcomes that the European Commission provides an overview of the social acquis as well as of the current social policy challenges.In this respect, we would very much welcome a strong commitment at EU level to promote workplace pensions considering it already contributes to adequate benefit provision in Member States and should play an even larger role. PensionsEurope then supports policy measures aiming at increasing the access, the coverage and the attractiveness of workplace pensions.The right to be informed on future public pension benefits should be granted at EU Level, as a measure of transparency and as a way for citizens to take timely and informed decisions to cover their future needs.Particular attention should be paid to those who do not automatically have access to workplace pensions as more and more people are working as self-employed or short term working contracts. Good solutions have to be found to that regard.
At the same time we remind you that social and labour laws are an exclusive competence of the Member States. PensionsEurope thus recommends that the share of best practices between the Member States should be fostered trough for instance rejuvenating the Open Method of Coordination.
To consult the PensionsEurope contribution please click here
The obstacles with the withholding tax refund processes pose a major barrier to cross-border investments in the EU and to build the CMU. In order to boost the economic growth in the EU, PensionsEurope calls on the Member States and the European Commission to remove all the withholding tax barriers to cross-border investments.
PensionsEurope emphasizes that relief-at-source systems for the withholding tax are the most effective way to promote cross border investment and therefore calls upon the Commission to study the possibilities for a Directive to facilitate this, for amongst others pension funds, in the internal market. Meanwhile, PensionsEurope welcomes the initiative of the Commission to establish relief at source, quick and standardized refund procedures through best practices and a code of conduct. You can find PensionsEurope’s position paper and proposals on the Code of Conduct for withholding tax here.