Monday

17th Jun 2019

Commission plans to tap pension funds to kickstart business

  • European pension funds hold €2.5 trillion which should be put to work, says the commission

Tapping pension funds and encouraging online crowd funding are at the heart of plans unveiled by the European Commission to kickstart business investment.

Speaking on Thursday (27 March), financial services commissioner Michel Barnier said the Commission's blueprint on 'long-term financing' published the same day was needed to further encourage alternatives to traditional bank lending which remains stagnant more than five years since the start of the financial crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"Our financial system must regain and increase its ability to finance the real economy," he said, adding that "we need to diversify financing sources in Europe and improve access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises."

The bloc also needs to kick-start investment in research, new technologies and energy if it is to reach ambitious targets in its Europe 2020 and 2030 climate and energy package. It is also seeking funds worth around €1 trillion for its flag-ship infrastructure project Connecting Europe.

As part of changes to the rules governing work-related pensions, the Commission wants to ease the restrictions on what these funds can invest in. It also wants to reduce the capital requirements for banks and insurance firms looking to invest in asset-backed securities.

Although such securities products triggered the sub-prime debt crisis in the United States which, in turn, was at the heart of the 2008-9 financial crisis, Barnier insisted that easing the rules would not risk a repeat of the crisis.

European pension funds have assets worth more than €2.5 trillion on their books on behalf of over 75 million people. The EU executive believes these could be invested in businesses.

Europe needs alternative sources of investment as its banks continue to recover slowly from the financial crisis in 2008-9, while the countries hit hardest by the eurozone's debt crisis have seen businesses starved of cash.

The EU executive estimates that only one in three Greek and Dutch businesses and one in two Spanish and Italians got the full amount of credit they applied for in 2013.

Lending to small businesses in across the bloc's periphery has fallen by over 50 percent over the past five years, according to research by the Institute of International Finance.

Barroso fights to keep investment pot in EU budget

The European Commision has started banging the drum for a new €50bn pot of money that it says will reinvigorate Europe's economy. But the aid is unlikely to make it through budget negotiations unscathed.

Investigation

The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Scientists say there is no acceptable dose to avoid brain damage. Its use is banned in several European countries. Yet its residues are found in fruit baskets, on dinner plates, and in human urine samples from all over Europe.

Agenda

Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

A summit in Belgian capital this week will host heads of government and state to discuss top EU institutional posts. But before they meet, the jockeying for the Commission presidency will have already started among the European political groups.

Interview

Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Juan Branco is a lawyer and co-author of a legal document submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing EU officials and member states of crimes against humanity for their migration policies. "Some people should have to go to prison."

Opinion

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  2. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  3. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  4. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  5. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  6. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  7. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  8. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us