Groupe Consultatif speaks out at hearing on review of IORPs Directive

From a press release issued by the Groupe Consultatif: 
"EU Public Hearing of IORPs: Groupe Consultatif dismisses pensions comparable to insurance
Dismissing the idea that he had ever said, or implied, that "pensions funds would be subject to Solvency II rules", EU Commissioner Michel Barnier, speaking at the Commission's open hearing on the review of the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive in Brussels yesterday (1 March), also strongly rejected claims that, "the revision of the Directive will cost European businesses 800 billion Euros or more" as well as claims that, "an extension of the Solvency II Directive to cover pension funds is planned and would abolish defined-benefit occupational pension schemes".
In response, the Groupe Consultatif points out that the referred high amounts must be based on the assumption that all pensions are fully guaranteed, which in practice very often is not the case; pension funds grant "soft" or "softer" guarantees as opposed to insurance products which generally offer "hard guarantees". This point was further elaborated, in the Group Consultatif’s speech delivered by the Chairman of the Pensions Committee Falco Valkenburg at the hearing when he said that, " the valuation of the pension liabilities should allow for this – one of the ways would be to use higher discount rate that would appropriately reflect the softness of the contract".
"We should keep reminding ourselves that pensions are an agreement between social partners. Requiring higher capital requirements would improve the quality of the pension contract. We would suggest leaving this to social partners to decide, as pensions are just one element of a larger remuneration package.""
Read the full press release  
Read Commissioner Barnier's speech