Ensuring financial stability and maintaining consumer trust in the insurance and pensions sector will be critical to Europe’s economy recovery from the Covid19 pandemic. Over the long term, the insurance and pensions sector will also play a critical role in realising the ambitions of the European Green Deal.
These were some of the key messages to come out of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA)’s 10th annual conference, held virtually on 4 February 20201. The event also marked the departure of Gabriel Bernardino, who has been Chair of EIOPA for a decade.
“Supervisors like EIOPA have played an important role in our response to the economic impact of the COVID crisis, showing flexibility to allow businesses and banks to continue to serve their customers throughout this period,” said Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union in her opening speech.
“EIOPA’s success also stems from the leadership of Gabriel Bernardino. Now, we need to work together, as regulators, supervisors and industry, to prepare for the economic recovery.”
In his keynote speech, Gabriel Bernardino outlined three priorities for the future: the urgency to deliver adequate and sustainable pensions; a new approach to consumer disclosures; and the need for centralised insurance supervision.
Gabriel Bernardino also used his keynote to set the scene for the day’s discussions.
“Climate change, the protection gap, digital transformation and cyber threats are challenges for society as whole. This is where the industry can take leading role, and these are the issues on which EIOPA is working on. The insurance and pensions sector must be part of the solution.”
Strong and sustainable recovery
A panel discussion focused on the role of insurance and pensions in supporting recovery in Europe. In particular, the panel touched upon the European Green Deal, building a Europe fit for a digital age, and fostering a Capital Markets Union.
The panel agreed that the European Green Deal presents an opportunity to create a societal shift to more sustainable activities, which the insurance and pensions sector can invest in. Transitioning to a carbon neutral future will depend on long term funding and the raising of capital from private investors. The insurance and pensions sector can play an important supportive role here.
Irene Tinagli, Chair of the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee underlined EIOPA’s commitment to consumer protection as part of her address.
“Consumer protection has been at the core of EIOPA’s work. Insurance and pensions are present in the daily life of most Europeans. This is why EIOPA’s actions and measures to foster consumer protection are very important.”
Meeting society’s challenges
A second panel discussion focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the lack of cover for many businesses. Protection gaps also exist for natural catastrophes and cybersecurity.
The panel agreed that closing protection gaps was critical in order to achieve a speedy recovery, and to make society more inclusive and fairer. Insurance and pensions policies must be explained more clearly to consumers, and focus more closely on their needs. Mitigation measures leading to lower risk should be recognised in coverage policies.
Keynote speech by Gabriel Bernardino, Chair
What is the role of insurance and pensions in supporting recovery in Europe, in particular, in supporting a European green deal, building a Europe fit for a digital age, and fostering Capital Markets Union?
- Andreas Brandstetter, President, Insurance Europe and Chairman & CEO of the UNIQA Insurance Group, Austria
- Bernard Delbecque, Chair, Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group and and Senior Director, Economics & Research, European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA)
- Martin Merlin, Director, Bank, insurance and financial crime, Directorate General Financial stability, financial services and Capital Markets Union, European Commission
- Lucie Pinson, Founder and Executive Director, Reclaim Finance
- Juan Ramón Plá, Chairman, the European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries (BIPAR)
Moderated by Karel Van Hulle, Economics and Business Faculty, KU Leuven and Economics Faculty, Goethe University
Closing protection gaps: Meeting society’s challenges with insurance and pensions
The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted lack of cover for many businesses, but protection gaps also exist for natural catastrophes and cyber security. In the area of savings, the pension gap is one of the most serious issues facing people across all ages and demographics. How can the insurance and pensions sector strengthen society’s resilience and close gaps?
- Monique Goyens, Director General, the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC)
- Mario Greco, Chair, Pan-European Insurance Forum and Group Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance
- Michaela Koller, Chair, Insurance and (Re)insurance Stakeholder Group and Director General, Insurance Europe
- Vicky Saporta, Chair, Executive Committee, International Association of Insurance Supervisors
- Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, Member of the European Parliament
Moderated by Carlos Montalvo, former Executive Director, EIOPA and Partner, PwC
As Chair of EIOPA, Gabriel Bernardino is responsible for the strategic direction of EIOPA and represents the Authority at the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Gabriel prepares the work of EIOPA's Board of Supervisors and also chairs the meetings of the Board of Supervisors and the Management Board.
Gabriel assumed his responsibilities as Chair on 1 March, 2011 for a first five-year term. On 16 December 2015 the European Parliament confirmed the re-appointment of Gabriel for a second five-year term, which started on 1 March 2016.
Prior to his current role, Gabriel was the Director General of the Directorate for Development and Institutional Relations at the Instituto de Seguros de Portugal (ISP). He has served in several positions of increasing responsibility since he joined the ISP in 1989 and represented EIOPA's preceding organisation, CEIOPS, as Chair between October 2009 and December 2010.
Director General for financial stability, financial services and Capital Markets Union, European Commission
John Berrigan is the Director General in DG FISMA (Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union) of the European Commission.
DG FISMA is responsible for EU-level policy making and legislative initiatives with respect to the financial sector, including Banking Union, Capital Markets Union, sustainable finance, digital finance, anti-money laundering and sanctions. In this context, John represents the European Commission on the Economic and Financial Committee and the Financial Services Committee, which report to EU Finance Ministers. He also represents the Commission on the Financial Stability Board, which reports to G20 Finance Ministers. He attends the European Systemic Risk Board and is a permanent observer on the Single Resolution Board.
John has been a Commission official since the mid-1980s and has spent most of that time working on financial-sector issues - first in DG ECFIN (where he contributed to macro-financial analysis in general and more specifically to financial-sector aspects of the assistance programmes for Member States) and now in DG FISMA. He worked on preparations for the introduction of the euro in 1999 and was secretary of the so-called Giovannini Group, which produced reports, inter alia, on issues related to euro-denominated debt issues and post-trading in EU securities markets in the early 2000s. In the mid-1990s, he worked for several years with the International Monetary Fund.
John has a masters degree in economics from University College Dublin.
President, Insurance Europe and Chairman & CEO of the UNIQA Insurance Group, Austria
Andreas Brandstetter was elected president of Insurance Europe in May 2018.
Andreas holds a master’s degree (1992) and a PhD (1994) in political science from the University of Vienna, Austria including a one-year scholarship at the University of California, San Diego, USA. In 1993, he joined the cabinet of the then Vice Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, before becoming Managing Director of the Austrian People’s Party. In 1995, he was appointed head of the EU office of the Austrian Raiffeisen Association in Brussels and Vienna. Andreas joined the insurance industry in 1997 as assistant to the CEO of UNIQA’s predecessor company, becoming member of the Management Board responsible for international markets and mergers & acquisitions in 2002. In the same year, he finished his MBA at California State University, Hayward/IMADEC. In July 2011, he was appointed Chairman and CEO of UNIQA Insurance Group.
Chair, EIOPA Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group and Senior Director, Economics & Research, European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA)
Bernard Delbecque is Senior Director for Economics and Research at EFAMA. He is also responsible for developing EFAMA’s position on questions related to pension and investor education. Bernard served as Vice-Chair of EIOPA’s Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group (OPSG) between April 2016 and October 2018, and as Chair of the OPSG between October 2018 and July 2020. Bernard was appointed for a new term in the OPSG, starting in July 2020, and he was reelected OPSG Chair for a term of two years. Bernard also served as a member of ESMA’s Group of Economic Advisers in 2014-2016.
Prior to joining EFAMA, Bernard was a policy advisor to the Belgian Minister of Finance and previously he worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund in Washington.
Bernard is a Belgian national. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and he also teaches economics courses at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.
Director General, the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC)
As Director General of BEUC, Monique represents 44 independent national consumer associations in 32 European countries, acting as a strong consumer voice in Brussels, ensuring that consumer interests are given weight in the development of policies and raising the visibility and effectiveness of the consumer movement through lobbying EU institutions and media contacts.
As a consumer expert and advocate, and on behalf of BEUC, Monique is currently member of the EU High Level Forum for the Capital Market Union. She is a member of the sub-group on Artificial Intelligence, Connected Products and other new Challenges in Product Safety (2020), an effective member of the Euro Retail Payments Board, a member of the expert group on “trade agreements” (2018-2019) and Vice-Chair of the European Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations. She was a member to the expert group on “Online Disinformation” (2018).
In her capacity as BEUC Director General, Monique is currently EU co-chair of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) a network of EU and US consumer organisations, and she also represents BEUC at Consumers International, the international consumer organisation.
Apart from championing consumer’ rights, Monique’s passions/challenges are her family & cooking for friends.
Group Chief Executive Officer, Zurich
Mario Greco joined Zurich in March 2016 as Group Chief Executive Officer and member of the Executive Committee. Mario started his professional career in management consulting, working in McKinsey & Company’s Milan office from 1986 until 1994, where he became a partner in 1992 and subsequently a partner leader in the insurance segment. In 1995, he joined RAS (Allianz Group) in Milan as head of the claims division. He became general manager in charge of the insurance business the following year. In 1998, he was appointed managing director and in 2000, he became the company’s CEO. At the end of 2004, Marion joined Allianz AG’s executive board, with responsibility for France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. In April 2005, he joined the Sanpaolo IMI Group in Milan as CEO of EurizonVita and in October 2005, he was appointed CEO of Eurizon Financial Group. From 2007 to 2012, he served at Zurich, first as CEO Global Life and from 2010, as CEO General Insurance. In 2012 he was appointed CEO of Generali.
Mario is chairman of the Pan-European Insurance Forum and a member of the board of directors of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the International Advisory Council of Bocconi University, a member of the Executive Faculty and a member of the EMBA X advisory board at the University of St.Gallen and a member of the advisory board of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich.
Chair, EIOPA Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group and Director General, Insurance Europe
Michaela Koller is director general of Insurance Europe, the European insurance and reinsurance federation. She is currently also secretary general of the Global Federation of Insurance Associations (GFIA).
Michaela has worked in Brussels for the last 28 years. Prior to joining Insurance Europe in February 2007, she was holding management positions in different banking trade bodies.
Michaela has served as a member of various consumer/industry groups and advisory groups established by the European Commission. She chaired EIOPA’s Insurance and Reinsurance stakeholder group during its first mandate and she was a member of EIOPA’s Occupational Pensions stakeholder group for the last two mandates. She is currently chair of EIOPA’s Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group and testifies regularly at hearings organised by EU institutions.
Michaela is a German national and holds a law degree from Augsburg University.
European Commissioner for financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union
Mairead McGuinness is the European Commissioner for financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union.
The Commissioner’s vision for the portfolio is focused on ensuring the financial sector’s strength and stability, so that it can deliver for people, society and the environment.
Before joining the Commission in October 2020, Ms McGuinness was First Vice-President of the European Parliament from 2017. She served as an MEP from Ireland for 16 years, and was a Vice-President of the Parliament since 2014.
As Vice-President, she oversaw relations with national Parliaments, led the Parliament’s dialogue with religious and philosophical organisations, and had responsibility for the Parliament’s communication policy.
During her time in the Parliament, Ms McGuinness sat on a range of committees, covering agriculture, environment, public health, budgets, petitions and constitutional affairs. Her legislative work included leading for the EPP Group on the European Climate Law, the revision of medical devices legislation, and CAP reform post-2013. As an Irish MEP representing the border region, she was outspoken on Brexit and the consequences for the EU and Ireland.
In 2006-2007, Ms McGuinness chaired the Parliament’s investigation into the collapse of the Equitable Life assurance company which identified issues around weak financial regulation.
Prior to becoming an MEP, she was an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and commentator.
Director, Banks, Insurance and Financial Crime, Directorate General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, European Commission
Martin Merlin started his career at the French Treasury in the Department of International Monetary and Financial Affairs.
In 1997 he joined the Commission and since then has worked consistently across the various domains of Financial Services including positions in the Commissioner’s Cabinet, as Head of Unit coordinating Financial Services Policy and as Director of Financial Markets until his current position as Director, Banks, Insurance and Financial Crime.
Martin represents the Commission at the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, on the Board of Supervisors of both EBA and EIOPA, in the Financial Stability Board’s Resolution Steering Group and in the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF/GAFI).
former Executive Director, EIOPA and Partner, PwC
Carlos joined PwC in 2016, following a career of more than 15 years in the area of regulation and supervision of insurance undertakings and groups.
Until end March 2016, and since 2011, Carlos was the first Executive Director at EIOPA (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), in charge of its management, multi-annual and annual work programs, organisation, people and finances. During his mandate, EIOPA moved from less than 20 staff to 150 and became a key stakeholder regarding, amongst others, the Solvency II project. Carlos was also the representative of EIOPA at the Board of both EBA and ESMA, the European Banking and Securities Supervisory Authorities.
Prior to that, Carlos was appointed (2007-2010) as Secretary General of CEIOPS, the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors, responsible for its regulatory agenda and the day to day management of the institution. During his mandate, he was deeply involved in the European response to the financial crisis.
In addition to his international roles, Carlos played a number of relevant roles at the Spanish Insurance Supervisor (2000-2007), including representing Spain at Council meetings during financial conglomerates and Solvency II negotiations, or at CEIOPS Board. His role coordinating group supervision in Spain provided him with an in depth view of the Market and the business.
Carlos also lectures risk management for insurance undertakings at Frankfurt University, within the ILF (Institute of Law and Finance), where he has also been a Member of the Board of Trustees for 8 years.
Carlos has been invited by the World Bank, the IAIS (International Association of Insurance Supervisors) or the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to take part on debate and events as a relevant expert and keynote speaker.
Additionally, he has been a frequent speaker in different fora, invited professor by a number of universities and author of different articles on insurance and pensions related issues.
Executive Director, EIOPA
As Executive Director, Fausto Parente presides over the day-to-day management of EIOPA. Fausto was elected by the Board of Supervisors of EIOPA on 28 January 2016 and reappointed for a second five-year term on 29 September 2020. Fausto has a distinguished career in supervisory regulations and policies at national and international level. Prior to his current role he was Head of the Supervisory Regulation and Policy Directorate at the Italian Insurance Supervisor, IVASS – Istituto di Vigilanza sulle Assicurazioni.
He was the Alternate Member in EIOPA Board of Supervisors and member of the Advisory Technical Committee of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB). In the context of the Italian Chairmanship in the EU Council (second half of 2014), Fausto chaired the Council's working group on the Insurance Mediation Directive negotiations. From 2011 to 2016 he chaired the Insurance Group Supervision Committee of EIOPA and, from 2015 to 2016, the Joint ESAs Committee on Financial Conglomerates. For several years he was an alternate member in the Technical and Financial Stability Committees of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).
Fausto has a degree in Economics from the University Federico II, Naples, and he is licensed to practice as a certified accountant and financial analyst. He has attended many post-graduate courses in the fields of management, European Community law, economy and finance of insurance undertakings. He is author of a series of publications on insurance supervision.
Founder and Executive Director, Reclaim Finance
Lucie founded Reclaim Finance in 2020 after several years of campaigning on the responsibility of financial institutions in social, environmental and climate injustice issues. From 2013 to 2017, Lucie worked as a campaigner for Friends of the Earth France. She convinced some of the largest French insurers, banks and investors to adopt the 1st policies to restrict support for several fossil fuel sub-sectors. In 2018, she started working for the Sunrise Project as the European coordinator of an international anti-coal campaign targeting insurers while continuing her voluntary work for Friends of the Earth France. This work was effective. By 2019, French investors managing 7 trillions of euros in assets had strongly restricted their investments in the coal sector, and 15 of the world’s largest insurers and reinsurers had stopped insuring new coal projects. Lucie holds a BA in History and Political Science from Rhodes University in South Africa and a double Masters degree in Political Science from the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Juan Ramón Plá
Chairman of BIPAR, the European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries
Juan Ramón is the Chairman of BIPAR, the European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries. BIPAR groups 50 national associations in 30 countries, representing the interests of insurance agents and brokers and financial intermediaries in Europe. Additionally, he is also honoured to serve as a member of the IRSG since 2016. After having been Vice-Chairman, from 2008 to 2018, Juan Ramón is treasurer from the Spanish Insurance Brokers’ Association (ADECOSE) since 2019 and has chaired its International Committee for the past 12 years.
Juan Ramón has been active in the insurance market since 1999. Currently he is a partner and Chief Operating Officer of a privately owned insurance broker, Grupo Concentra, with over 90 employees, which provides a full range of services, particularly in the area of Health insurance (both to individuals and collectives), as well as Commercial and Financial lines, mainly to SMEs.
Additionally, Juan Ramón has participated as an upon request lecturer, speaking about different topics related to the insurance industry and regularly contributed with articles/interviews in the main specialised insurance magazines in Spain.
Juan Ramón studied Agriculture in Madrid and obtained an MSc in Management from the London Business School.
Chair, Executive Committee, International Association of Insurance Supervisors
Vicky Saporta has been Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors since 2014. She is Executive Director, Prudential Policy, at the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank of England. She has been working as a prudential regulator and central banker with a focus on financial stability and international finance, over the past 25 years. Vicky has published a number of articles on banking and insurance regulation, financial stability and international finance in academic journals and central bank publications. She holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge.
Chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament
Irene Tinagli holds a BA in Management from Bocconi University, a Master of Science and a PhD in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (PA). After the PhD she started her academic career at Carlos III University in Madrid, where she taught Management and Organizational Design, from 2009 till 2013, when she was elected to the Italian Parliament, serving a five-year mandate dealing mostly with issues concerning economic and labor policies.
Prior to her political engagement, she had worked as a consultant for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the European Commission and several regional and national European governments on the topics of innovation and economic development.
She has been a columnist for Italian newspaper La Stampa and has published three books: Talento da Svendere (Einaudi, 2008), Un Futuro a Colori (Rizzoli, 2014) and La Grande Ignoranza (Rizzoli, 2019).
In 2010 she was nominated Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and in 2012 Young European Leader by Friends of Europe.
Karel Van Hulle
Economics and Business Faculty, KU Leuven and Economics Faculty, Goethe University, Frankfurt
Professor Karel Van Hulle lectures at the Economics and Business Faculty of the KU Leuven and at the Economics Faculty of the Goethe University in Frankfurt. He is a member of the Public Interest Oversight Board and of the Board of the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
He served as head of insurance and pensions at the European Commission until March 2013, where he was responsible for the development of Solvency II. In that capacity, he represented the EC within EIOPA and was a member of the technical committee of the IAIS.
He joined the EC in 1984 after serving eight years with the Belgian Banking Commission. Before becoming head of insurance and pensions in 2004, he was responsible at the EC for financial reporting, auditing and company law, including corporate governance.
Karel is a lawyer by training. He studied law at the KU Leuven and at the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee.
Karel was nominated Distinguished International Lecturer in Accounting by the American Accounting Association in 1990, Distinguished Fellow of the IAIS in 2013 and Honorary Fellow of the UK Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in 2014.
Member of the European Parliament
Stéphanie Yon-Courtin is a French Member of the European Parliament in the Renew Europe group. She is Vice-Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), and a substitute member in the IMCO committee and in the sub-committee on taxation (FISC). She was rapporteur for the 2019 annual competition policy report, and shadow rapporteur for the MiFID quick fix and on the 2020 report on the Capital Markets Union. She is Chair of the delegation for relations with Canada and a member of the delegation for relations with the United States.
Stéphanie is also a member of the Calvados Departmental Council. Prior to her election as an MEP in 2019, she was Mayor of Saint-Contest, and a Vice-President of the urban community Caen la Mer.
Prior to that, Stéphanie worked as an advisor on international affairs in the office of Bruno Lasserre, former President of the French Competition Authority. She was admitted to the Paris Bar in 2004, specialising in competition law, and worked in international law firms. She also worked as a legal expert in the European Commission.
Stéphanie holds a Master's degree in law from the Universities of Caen and Bristol, and a Master's degree in European Business Law from the Institute of European Studies.
Have you missed our conference? Watch it again here: