On 29 June 2017, the European Commission (“Commission”) published a legislative proposal for a regulation to create a pan-European personal pension product (“PEPP”). The objective of the proposed PEPP is to boost long-term investment and to provide answers to the challenge of aging population in the EU.
Under the proposed regulation, the PEPP would be a voluntary scheme to gather retirement savings, to be used as a complement to public and private occupational pension systems. While it constitutes a step forward in the harmonisation of European pensions frameworks, the PEPP proposal leaves many elements to national laws. For example, the determination of minimum and maximum payments, the conditions for cashing out in case of hardship, and the retirement age would be left for Member States to define.
The proposal introduces harmonised rules on the composition and marketing of PEPP to ensure that it can be distributed across EU Member States. It sets strong information requirements and proposes that savers will be able to switch providers at a capped cost every five years. The PEPP would also be portable across borders within the EU.
The PEPP proposal will now undergo the ordinary legislative procedure, which requires that the European Parliament and the Council of the EU agree on a common text.
High Level Expert Group on sustainable finance publishes interim report On 13 July 2017, the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group (“HLEG”) on sustainable finance published its interim report, providing preliminary recommendations to boost the development of sustainable finance in the EU.
The report discusses challenges and opportunities that the EU faces in relation to sustainable finance. It identifies two key objectives for Europe’s financial system. The first objective is to strengthen financial stability and asset pricing, by improving the assessment and management of long-term material risks and intangible factors of value creation, including those related to environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) issues. The second objective is to improve the contribution of the financial sector to sustainable and inclusive growth, in particular through the financing of long-term needs such as innovation and infrastructure, and by accelerating the shift to a low carbon and resource-efficient economy.
The interim report includes some preliminary policy recommendations, such as designing a classification system for sustainable assets, establishing a European standard and label for green bonds, and requiring better disclosure from financial institutions and companies on how sustainability is factored into decision-making. The Commission indicates that it will start assessing the recommendations made in the interim report and provide input ahead of the publication of the final report, which is due at the end of 2017.
In addition, the Commission launched, during a public hearing on sustainable finance on 18 July 2017, a public consultation to gather stakeholders’ feedback on the proposals made by the HLEG. Comments can be submitted until 20 September 2017.