Wednesday, 8 June 2011

European Economic and Social Committee paper on Solvency – 5th May

I do recall fishing for this and having no success, but the EESC Opinion Paper on Solvency II (agreed last month, but not sure when released) makes for fascinating reading.

As with most things relating to European bodies, I struggle to identify exactly what the purpose of it is, but the committee, at the behest of the European Council no less, make a number of substantial points;
  • Solvency II "should not result in market consolidation, especially in respect of small and medium insurers
  • Focus very hard on sustaining the provision of guaranteed long-term products, and therefore an "appropriate" interest rate term structure is indispensible in calculating SCR
  • That this is not just a technical issue, but also a political issue when involving provision for old age
  • Explains the reason for "implementing measures" becoming "delegated acts" at Level 2 (which I never knew the driver behind until today!)
  • Heavy on smoothing the transition between Solvency I and II, and states that the transition should cover "all three pillars"
  • Proper assessment of how transitional rules can be consistently linked with supervisory actions in cases of non-compliance post go-live date
  • "Transition should refer more explicitly to the upgraded Solvency I standard as an (optional) minimum level" - I may be wrong, but is Solvency I not a retrograde step for UK  plc, who are already knee deep in ICAS?
  • "Interest Rate term structure and illiquidity premium will not be determined by legislative bodies"
  • Timeframe for effective launch of Solvency II "particularly challenging" - "Insurance companies cannot be held accountable for instructions that are to be published at a later stage"
  • "The proposal that EIOPA develop draft implementing measure by 31 December 2011 at the latest would seem to be somewhat ambitious"!
  • Discourages developing more Level 3's where Level 2's already exist - "In case of any doubts, for individual implementing measures (Level 2), no additional technical standards (Level 3) should be provided for; eg Level 3 would not appear to be necessary in respect of own risk and solvency assessment (ORSA), the classification of Own Funds or ring-fenced funds" 
I honestly don't know how to read this - is it the start of the goalpost moving process, the issue of a public challenge to meet tight dealines, or a reprimand for CEIOPS/EIOPA for regurgitating most of Level 2 into Level 3? I guess there will be more to follow...

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