The “Spiegel Online” columnist was right to lament: “The UK’s exit from the EU is a tragedy. It’s a political shock event that should never have happened.”
The Brexit negotiations will enter their crucial phase this year, as the United Kingdom is due to leave the single market in March 2019. In spite of the political tenor of the negotiations having recently improved, we must still be prepared for a hard Brexit.
Watered down stability criteria are not a solution
Brexit is a major event in every way and is naturally relevant to the German insurance sector. However, the European agenda goes far beyond that: the European Commission has just presented a roadmap to deepen the economic and currency union with specific measures for the next 18 months up to the parliamentary elections. The aim of the latest package of measures to reform the eurozone and deepen the currency union is to improve its capacity to withstand crises.
As insurers, we also want to achieve this end, albeit not by the same means. The EU will not become more crisis-resistant by compromising on its stability criteria, delaying necessary budgetary and structural reforms in its member states or even mutualising debt through a European currency fund.
Enforce the current rules instead of continually adding new ones
Europe is not lacking in regulation, but in the implementation of its regulations. Take, for example, the proposals for a European minimum standard for the recovery and resolution of insurers and the overhaul of the supervisory structures: Europe’s institutions don’t need more authority; they should focus on a uniform implementation of the current rules instead of continually adding new ones.
That is why we will keep advocating more entrepreneurial freedom and a lighter regulatory burden throughout 2018. Following the implementation of Solvency II, the time has come to call into question some aspects of the bureaucratic burden imposed on us and to cast a more critical eye on the cost-benefit ratio of this regulation. For example, the full impact of the General Data Protection Regulation and the implementation of the Insurance Distribution Directive has yet to be revealed.
This year, as the scheduled overhaul of the European financial supervisory authorities takes shape, we will lobby against the development of EIOPA into a new consumer protection authority and in favour of limiting its powers to issue guidelines arbitrarily. The executive bodies must remain under parliamentary control, even at European level. We would therefore like to see the EU member states managing EIOPA under the control of the EU Parliament.
EU parliamentary control over the supervisory bodies
These political processes again demonstrate that we urgently need a government in Germany with a parliamentary majority and the power to act. They also show the strategic relevance of the European parliamentary elections for the insurance sector.
That is why we need to follow events on the European stage closely this year to retain a constructive operating environment in future.
Jörg von Fürstenwerth