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European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority
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Hearing of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament

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Publication date
28 July 2021

Description

Introductory statement by Fausto Parente, Executive Director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority

Via videoconference

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Madam Chair
Honourable Members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee

Thank you for inviting me to talk to you today about the work of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, its priorities for the future and the corresponding priorities for me as Executive Director to ensure that the organisation fulfils both its mandate and its potential.

On the one hand, I believe that EIOPA’s reputation as a credible supervisory authority is well acknowledged and over the last 10 years we have seen important achievements in prudential and conduct oversight, as well as in our supervisory convergence and financial stability work, including stress tests. 

More recently, with the Coronavirus pandemic, EIOPA demonstrated rapid reaction and decision-making to put in place measures to ensure stability of the sectors and to mitigate impact on consumers.

On the other hand, we cannot be complacent. 

We continue to see issues related to consumer protection – whether they stem from cross-border business or poor conduct of business. We therefore need to keep delivering on our strategic priorities: driving forward conduct of business supervision, leading convergence towards high-quality prudential supervision, strengthening the stability of the sectors, as well as operating efficiently and effectively. 

In the area of insurance, now that we have submitted our Opinion on the 2020 review of Solvency II, we need to continue advising the co-legislators on maintaining the regulatory framework also in other areas, such as the Insurance Distribution Directive. The sustainability and adequacy of pensions are a priority for governments across Europe and we must work on helping governments to assess their pensions gaps and citizens make informed decision about their options for saving for retirement. We must also be ready for the implementation of the pan-European personal pension product, or PEPP, which from 2022 will offer savers a new pan-European way to save.

On top of this, we must also consider the changing insurance and pensions’ landscape.

COVID-19 is accelerating the digital revolution. The sustainability agenda is in focus like never before. And the COVID recovery – a green and digital recovery – is both a political and economic priority.

As an organisation, we will need to adapt to be able to take on and reprioritise tasks as required. As supervisors, we must make sure that we are aware of the latest technological developments so that supervision fosters an environment in which innovation thrives, yet not to the detriment of consumers.

How we will achieve this? I believe that we need qualified and engaged people, the right systems in place and good cooperation. I also believe that we have a good starting point and in the next five years, I plan to build on this through:

Continuing to improve our systems and processes. COVID-19 highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of our own preparedness, both in terms of our staff and our IT systems. On the whole the experience has been positive, but there are still areas where we can improve. Over the last year, we have seen how much we rely on digital processes and we must continue to develop these to create further efficiency across all areas of our organisation. In terms of IT, we must also strengthen our capacity to become a data-driven organisation, able to exploit all the potential of our databases. Our goal is a modern, integrated yet flexible solution, future oriented (machine learning, AI, etc.) with automated governance processes, wherever possible, while keeping on investing in data security.

Likewise, our ongoing work on SupTech will allow us to harness the benefits that innovative tools and techniques can bring to our oversight and supervision work.

Efficient resource management. I believe that we will hold on to some of the changes to our working practices that have been brought on by the pandemic. And, while we are impatient to be back in the office and to go on mission, some changes will stay. In the future, I believe that we will have fewer missions.  In addition, despite increasing numbers of staff, we will aim to implement flexible workplace arrangements, including a form of hot-desking, to keep the costs of our office space stable. Both of these actions will also help us to improve our environmental performance. On this we are already participating in the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). 

Enhancing communication and cooperation. We will continue to work closely with national supervisory authorities. During the pandemic, we demonstrated that we could continue to function effectively. We will continue to build on our already-good institutional relations at European level and we will continue to communicate and engage with stakeholders in a structured and transparent manner.

Developing our staff. We already have a high-performing staff, characterised by their commitment and expertise. We – I – could not have achieved anything without them. We must continue to develop their skills, knowledge and competences so that they are well-placed to deal with future challenges. 

While overall we have a good gender balance among staff at EIOPA, this is not currently the case for our middle management positions. To rectify this, vacancy notices for senior positions now include a specific text encouraging applications from female candidates. I strongly believe that a diverse and inclusive workplace is essential for a strong and high-performing organisation. In March this year, we launched our ‘Women in insurance’ initiative profiling women from insurance and pensions to raise awareness of the sectors as a rewarding and long-term career choice, whether at EIOPA, at national supervisors or in the private sector. 

EIOPA today is a smart, dynamic and resilient organisation made up of people who are engaged, qualified and always ready to go the extra mile. We may be facing challenging times ahead, but I am confident that we will be able to successfully meet those challenges. In doing so, we can make sure that citizens can continue to trust in and benefit from a robust insurance and pensions sector.