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E.U. High Level Group on Supplementary Pensions Members Announced

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The European Commission in August 2018 announced the names of the ten members of its recently established “High Level Group on [supplementary] pensions”.

The mission of the group is “to provide policy advice to the Commission on matters related to ways of improving the provision, safety through prudential rules, inter-generational balance, adequacy and sustainability of supplementary (occupational and personal) pensions in light of the challenges in the Union and the Member States affecting the adequacy of old age incomes and the development of the Union’s pension market.”

The group was set up in December 2017 and its members were selected via a call for applications that ended in July 2018.

The twelve members include:

Type A – Individual experts appointed in his/her personal capacity

  • Nazare da Costa Cabral, Associate Professor at the Lisbon School of Law, Lisbon University, Portugal
  • Boris Majcen, expert on pension systems in the European Commission’s European Social Policy Network (ESPN) and director of the Institute for Economic Research in Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Concepcio Patxot Cardoner, Professor at the University of Barcelona and advisor for the Catalan autonomous government, from Spain
  • Yves Stevens, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Belgian Academic Council on Pension reform and policy, from Belgium

All of them are academics.

Type B – Individual expert appointed as representative of a common interest

  • Anne-Sophie Parent from Belgium – secretary-general of Age Platform Europe, a network of NGOs of and for people aged 50+
  • Nicolas Jeanmart from Belgium – head of the Personal Insurance, General Insurance and Macroeconomics department of Insurance Europe, representing E.U. insurance and reinsurance carriers
  • Matti Leppala from Finland – secretary-general of PensionsEurope, representing E.U. pension funds and other providers of workplace and other funded pensions

Type C – Organizations

  • European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), representing trade unions
  • CEEP – European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services and Services of General Interest, an NGO
  • Union européenne de l’Artisanat et des petites et moyennes entreprises, aisbl (UEAPME), representing craftspeople and small- and medium-sized firms
  • BusinessEurope (shorthand for the Confederation of European Business), a lobby group representing national industry and employers’ organizations from the EU and six non-EU European countries.

Type E – Other public entity

  • The E.U. insurance regulator, European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), as an E.U. Agency

Type D members are national insurance or pensions authorities. None was invited to join, probably because EIOPA is supposed to represent them.

German chemicals group BASF was among the initial list of Type C members. The list was amended in mid-August 2018, adding CEEP, UEAPME, BusinessEurope, and deleting BASF. BASF, a Euro Stoxx-50 listed industrial giant employing 115,000 people in over 80 countries, could hardly be seen as a valid representative for smaller or for public firms, never mind independent workers. Hence the inclusion of CEEP and of UEAPME.

The operating rules of the group, as defined by EU Commission decision C(2017)8523 of 18.12.2017 setting up a High-level group of experts on pension, provided for two, not four, type C “representatives of cross-industry social partners at Union level, one representing each side of the industry”. As of mid-August 2018, employees have one representative organization; employers three. However, all three employer organizations are represented by a single delegate, Richard Nicka, vice president of benefits at … BASF and chairman of the executive board of BASF Pensionskasse. Which brings us back to the question above: the smaller the business, the more difficult it is to fund a retirement plan. Will industrial giant BASF be a good representative of  smaller firms and independents’ interests?

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