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True market is still some way off Back  
Delegates flocked to the inaugural Pan-European Pensions Summit in Dublin to hear that while a true pan-European pensions market remains some way off, the European Commission is making real progress on removing barriers and Ireland is leading the way in developing the products that will facilitate this new market.
Almost 250 people attended the inaugural Pan-European Pensions Summit in Dublin on October 16th – the largest event of its kind in Europe this year - to hear about progress towards the creation of a true cross-border market in Europe.

With a quarter of large European companies now considering some form of pan-European scheme, delegates turned out in high numbers to the event, organised by FINANCE’s sister publication, Finance Dublin.

Attendees heard from Jaap Maasen, chairman of the European Federation for Retirement Provision that, ‘Taxation is still the major obstacle to a pan-European pensions market’, a point reiterated by chair of the Taoiseach’s Pan-European Pensions Task Force and PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, Pat Wall. He said that elimination of tax discrimination by member states was necessary in order for any real efficiencies in the European pensions market to be achieved.

However, Peter Schonewille, administrator, Direct Tax Infringement Unit at the European Commission, remarked that while the taxation of cross-border transfer of pension capital is still a problem, taxation is no longer as big a problem as it once was and he highlighted the Commission’s efforts in this regard.

Moreover, KPMG partner Paul McGowan said that the real issue in creating pan-European pensions was not tax, but rather the ‘fear factor’, as multinationals remained hesitant to be the ‘first mover’ in this new market.

But, while a true pan-European market may be some way off, as the barriers continue to dissipate, Ireland is well placed to capture more of this pensions business, and Wall told the audience that in the interim, efficiencies could be attained in the interim via asset pooling.

To date, Ireland has attracted around eight pan-European asset pooling type funds, from both investment managers such as Vanguard, and multinationals like IBM, into its Common Contractual Fund (CCF) structure, and is standing firm in face of growing competition from jurisdictions like the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium.

While pensions is unlikely to rival the funds servicing sector in terms of employment it would create more ‘value added’ jobs, as well as generating much higher fees for service providers.
See also page 9.

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