Review of Institutions for Occupational Retirement Pensions Directive

EESC opinion: Review of Institutions for Occupational Retirement Pensions Directive

Key points

  • In view of the need for faster and further development of occupational pensions as part of EU Member State pensions systems, the Committee supports most of the proposals set out in the European Commission's documents on the draft IORP II directive.
  • Seeing the need for additional forms of pension savings and particularly given the forecasts of lower public pensions, the EESC stresses that occupational pension schemes, created as a result of decisions by the social partners, can play a very important role in ensuring that employees have additional pension provision.
  • The EESC disagrees with the approach to IORPs purely as financial market institutions, which fails to acknowledge and respect their specific circumstances. IORPs are institutions which perform an important social function. The proposed directive must take account of the key role played by the social partners in establishing and managing programmes and the fact that the underlying principles of their operations have to reflect national social security and labour law.
  • A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right way of achieving the Commission's objectives given the numerous fundamental differences between pension schemes in individual Member States and occupational pension schemes, something which has a significant impact on the differing status, rights and expectations of members and beneficiaries of such schemes.
  • The Committee emphasises that far-reaching standardisation of occupational pension schemes could be costly, and rather than the further development expected by the EESC, could lead to their gradual disappearance.
  • The Committee emphasises that the overarching goal of pension schemes, including occupational pension schemes, is to ensure an adequate and stable level of benefits for their beneficiaries. While supporting the possibility of IORPs playing a greater investment role in "instruments that have a long-term investment profile", the EESC is at the same time firmly opposed to the European Commission proposal that "Member States shall not prevent institutions from … investing in instruments that … are not traded on regulated markets, multilateral trading facilities or organised trading facilities".