EU insurance watchdog to publish legislative details after ombudsman pressure

23 February 2021 17:22


The EU’s insurance watchdog will in future publish details of legislative developments, a senior official has told lawmakers, in a move stemming from a complaint by MLex.

Fausto Parente, executive director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, today said the agency would be more open about its decision-making, following criticism from the European Ombudsman that secrecy was harming the democratic process.

The move presages greater transparency in the process of drafting EU financial laws relating to insurance and banking, where previous decisions have been tainted by accusations of conflicts of interest and undue external pressure.

“We will now provide the additional information” regarding the details of a controversial vote on a draft law concerning packaged retail investment products, which board members initially rejected, Parente told members of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

“Also, in the future, we will provide for each and every decision that relates to the legislative process … the indication of who voted in favor and who voted against,” Parente added.

While the European Commission, lawmakers and governments agree overarching EU financial laws, technical agencies can draft legal instruments known as regulatory or implementing technical standards. The European Commission generally adopts the laws based on advice from Eiopa, the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority.

MLex raised a complaint against Eiopa about insufficient transparency last year. Today, Parente confirmed that, at a March meeting, the Eiopa board — which comprises senior officials from national insurance supervisors — had agreed to follow the preliminary advice from ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, responsible for probing maladministration in EU institutions, who urged it to publish.

“We rejected the initial request because our current rule or procedure, to cover the confidentiality of the decision-making process at Eiopa board level, did not allow us to immediately provide this additional information,” Parente said.

— EBA —

The Paris-based EBA, Eiopa’s banking counterpart, has previously told MLex it will be "reviewing" its procedures in light of O’Reilly’s final conclusions, which have not yet been issued. But this commitment may not necessarily cover non-legislative matters, such as its highly controversial veto of a report that found regulatory wrongdoing in connection to money laundering at Danske Bank.

Green party lawmaker Sven Giegold told MLex that he “can only applaud the commitment by Eiopa” for greater openness.

Parente’s commitment was “a small step for Eiopa, but a big step for European transparency: all other European agencies will feel forced to join in,” Giegold said in a telephone interview.

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