EIOPA’s annual conference in 2022 took place on 21 June at a time marked by high levels of uncertainty for the European economy and for consumers. Few periods over the past decades have presented so many challenges at once and manifested so clearly that far reaching transformations are afoot.
Geopolitical tensions, the lingering effects of a devastating pandemic that has disrupted our societies and economic structures, the risks and opportunities of a rapidly digitalising world and a climate change crisis whose effects through heat waves and flash floods are becoming more tangible are all muddling the outlook.
THe conference brought together regulators, academics, insurance experts, lawmakers as well as industry and consumer representatives to strengthen our dialogue and help provide some clarity on the way forward to the extent possible by highlighting priorities for regulation and supervision.
Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union opened the conference with a keynote speech. She underscored the importance of building up a strong financial system in order to be prepared for the enormous changes that are taking place. She also said that insurance companies were vital to help individuals and businesses manage the risks they face in these uncertain times. As institutional investors they also had a key role to play in bolstering the continent’s resilience by channelling funds into the economy through long-term investments.
EIOPA Chairperson Petra Hielkema’s address focused on the transformative nature of digitalisation and the need for the insurance and pensions sectors to take on the mammoth task of making economies more sustainable and to help mitigate risks to our societies. She also vowed to keep relevant regulatory frameworks up-to-date to reflect the new challenges and thus ensure the stability of the insurance and pensions sectors while continuing to deliver valuable outcomes to consumers.
Shortly afterwards, Victoria Saporta, Executive Director of the Prudential Policy Directorate at the Bank of England and Chair of the IAIS’ Executive Committee took the stage. She touched upon the risks facing the global insurance sector from inflation and tightening financial conditions to geopolitical aspects and stressed that new challenges such as cyber risks and climate change must also be on the minds of supervisors and regulators.
On top of the above speeches, EIOPA’s annual conference included high-level discussion rounds on three distinct topics. In the course of the day, expert panels took a deep dive into pressing issues like protection gaps, the evolution of the regulatory framework in response to new risks and the transition to an outcome-based approach to conduct supervision.
The exchanges confirmed that stakeholders see eye to eye on most of the challenges facing the sectors. This shared recognition of the risks forms the basis for a successful response to them in the months and years to come.