European Pensions Have Two Years To Comply With Derivative Trading Rules

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The European Commission is giving pension systems a two-year grace period before they have to begin complying with new derivative trading rules, according to Chief Investment Officer.

The new rules set up a central clearing house for derivatives trades. But the rules could be costly for pension funds – hence the two year exemption.

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The European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) requires the establishment of central clearing houses for the trading of certain types of derivatives.

These counterparties are expected to raise costs for pension funds and other parties substantially under the current iteration of the rules, as investors would need to hold more collateral against the derivatives they trade.

Pension funds would still be expected to use central clearing houses alongside other investors and traders, but the delay gives the clearing houses time to “find solutions for pension funds”, a statement from the European Commission said.

“Given that pensions hold neither significant amounts of cash nor highly liquid assets, imposing such a requirement on them would require very far-reaching and costly changes to their business model which could ultimately affect pensioners’ income,” the Commission said.

Read more about the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) here.

Europe Launches Cross-Border Pension Plan For Scientists, Researchers

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European scientists and researchers often move between countries for their work. That poses logistical problems for their pension plans, but the European Union is moving to end those troubles.

The European Commission announced this week a new, cross-border pension system for scientists and researchers who are frequently on the move. From Science Direct:

Under the new system, which is called Retirement Savings Vehicle for European Research Institutions (RESAVER) and will be launched next year, employees will stay affiliated to a single pension plan, keeping their benefits as they move between countries and institutions. “RESAVER’s size will also ensure very competitive costs,” says Théodore Economou, CEO of the pension fund at CERN, Europe’s particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

The fund will not substitute state-run pension systems (also known as first pillar pensions), but will provide supplementary benefits financed through employer contributions and private pension plans for individuals (so-called second and third pillar pensions).

But for now, the plan is limited to the handful of institutions that have signed up, including the Vienna University of Technology; the Elettra Synchrotron in Trieste, Italy; and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands. (CERN and the University of Cambridge were part of the task force that helped set up the system, but have not joined RESAVER.)

But where old logistical hurdles are removed, new ones come in their place. From Science Direct:

“RESAVER is not possible or attractive in a number of countries” including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom,” says Katrien Maes, chief policy officer at the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which supports the fund’s idea and also took part in the task force. For example, “Public sector employees [in France] are unable to opt out of their mandatory pension plan which already provides a relatively high level of benefit,” according to a 2010 feasibility study ordered by the European Commission.

The European Commission is awarding a 4-year, €4 million contract to kick-start the system.


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