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Column New EU Com­mis­sion

Four pro­po­sals for Europe

“We are ready. Europe is ready. Let’s get to work,” tweeted the EU Commission on 1 December, the first day in office of the new President Ursula von der Leyen. The duties and expectations awaiting her could hardly be greater.

Outgoing EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently congratulated his successor Ursula von der Leyen on the approval of her Commission. He was certain Europe would become “stronger, greener and more digital” under von der Leyen’s leadership, he said.

Stronger, greener, more digital

As insurers, we see ourselves as part of the European movement. Europe influences our industry in every respect, from grand politics to the small print. We can therefore only give our full support to “stronger, greener, more digital”.

Just what does that mean for our industry? I have four proposals to make:

  1. We must support the promotion of sustainable investment. Lip service is no longer enough. It’s no longer sufficient to just establish the far-reaching measures with which the EU aims to become a climate-neutral continent. These measures also need to be implemented. We are part of that process because as institutional investors  insurers can contribute significantly to climate protection. However, we need the right operating conditions to do that including, most of all, a classification system. This system must be made a priority so that we are all on the same page when we are talking about sustainable investments. As a rule of thumb, free market solutions must be prioritised to ensure freedom when selecting investments.
  2.  We need to create a digital single market to remain competitive at an international level. We need a uniform, suitable regulatory framework to promote innovation in the interests of consumers and business. Fair, transparent, free of discrimination – bearing in mind the opportunities.
  3. We need to complete the capital markets union as an important element in increasing the stability of the currency union. We have made progress, but we need to go a lot further. Improved capital flows within the currency zone would not just overcome financial market fragmentation, they would also reduce the requirement for the controversial fiscal balancing mechanisms in the eurozone. Moreover, with Brexit and the imminent loss of access to the London financial centre as we know it, the capital markets union becomes still more important. That involves insurers assuming a bigger role in financing the real economy. We are ready to take on this responsibility and we need more infrastructure investment opportunities to do that.
  4. We must apply proportional regulation and monitor its effectiveness and efficiency on a regular basis: More flexible, straightforward and proportional regulation. Since Lehman, Solvency II, the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have changed the nature of the insurance industry. And it doesn’t stop there, the constant regulation, reordering and change is ongoing. We want to dismantle unnecessary regulation and strengthen proportionality so companies can focus on their core business again.

European policy needs to focus on projects that add significant value to EU member states and their citizens. This is a very different approach to the illusionary concepts based solely on ever stronger integration. This principle of subsidiarity aligns perfectly with our demands to take a measured and proportional approach to regulation, especially by not overburdening small and medium-sized companies with reporting and documentation obligations.

We send our best wishes to Brussels

Sincerely yours

Jörg von Fürstenwerth

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