The European Commission issued a report on 24 March 2009 on the functioning of the Insurance Block Exemption Regulation (EC) 358/2003 (the IBER), which is due to expire in 2010. On 2 June 2009, the Commission conducted a public event which allowed industry representatives a final opportunity to express their views before the Commission takes a decision as to whether to renew part or all of the IBER.

The IBER exempts from antitrust scrutiny certain agreements among insurers, including pooling agreements, information sharing agreements, the use of standard policy conditions and security devices. The Commission’s report of 24 March, however, argued that two categories of agreement covered by the IBER— standard policy conditions and security devices—are not unique to the insurance industry and therefore should not be renewed after the IBER expires. On the other hand, the Commission acknowledged that certain unique aspects of the insurance industry may justify the use of pooling agreements and information sharing, provided that the IBER limited strictly the use of such agreements and that consumers benefit. As a result, the IBER is likely to be renewed only partially and will be changed substantially.

At the meeting of 2 June 2009, Commissioner Neelie Kroes reiterated the conclusions of the Commission’s 24 March report, explaining that block exemption regulations should be very rare. The Commission is expected to issue a draft regulation for consultation in the autumn.