UK - The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has rejected the idea that Solvency II regulations should include pensions, amid fresh rumours the EU is planning to harmonise pensions regulations to stop certain countries having more relaxed rules to attract funds.
However, Carlos Montalvo Rebuelta, secretary general of CEIOPS, would neither confirm nor deny the report.
He said: "Every time that the European Commission (EC) issues a mandate or a call for advice, CEIOPS is committed to take care of it.
"CEIOPS deals with insurance as well as with pensions, so if the EC decides to move in such a direction, of course we'll advise on the basis of the mandate."
Jon French, spokesperson for ABI, said that although the association fully supported the process that was being undertaken for Solvency II, it did not believe its development should be delayed or sidetracked as a consequence of discussions about the separate pensions issue.
Solvency II currently includes specific provisions regarding the treatment of insurance groups that operate on a cross-border basis.
"We are keen to avoid the two [being] lumped together, because the solvency requirements for insurers are going to be different for those from pension providers and we want the two processes to be kept separate," said French.
Danny Wilding, partner at Barnett Waddingham and a former chairman of leading European adviser network European Actuarial & Consultancy Services (EURACS), added that if Solvency II did get extended to pension funds, which is proposed but not agreed, it would bring in a much stronger set of rules than the current pension directive, bring everyone up to a higher standard and harmonise countries at that level.
"It would remove opportunities for some countries to have more lenient rules," said Wilding.
He warned, however, it could discourage employers from offering pension schemes. "Member states should be encouraging and not over-regulating - if you over-regulate a voluntary system, you will end up with very tight regulations with nothing to regulate because all the pension schemes will be gone," he cautioned.
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