I love Europe. I love the food, the wine, the people. “I am a donut” as JFK famously declared on his visit to Berlin. I usually roll my eyes when I hear the latest tabloid scare story about Europe encroaching on our long cherished rights such as fishing quotas for sea anglers or the threat posed to traditional Irish funerals.
I’ve discovered a useful website which debunks these “euromyths”, as they are referred to. I do find it mildly alarming that there is no entry refuting the claim that Brussels has banned bent bananas, suggesting that there is actually some truth to that story, and can only hope that that is the exception which proves the general rule.
So when I came across an article suggesting Brussels was setting up a pan-European pensions regulator I checked the euromyth website. Alarmingly there was a banana-like lack of refutation.
Whilst it is difficult not to concur with the recent wonderfully splenetic valedictory editorial from Alex Beveridge at Professional Pensions – “Pensions policy in the UK seems largely to be a political arse-covering exercise rather than any genuine desire to ensure future generations are well catered for”, on this occasion it may be a case of better the devil you know.
Successive European court cases have demonstrated a lack of understanding and indeed, a lack of any desire to understand, the particular issues faced by funded defined benefit schemes as operated in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, and there has to be a risk that the same lack of understanding would be found in any pan-european regulator. It’s not as if we’re short of a bit of regulation here in the UK.
So whilst I bow to no-one in my admiration of French wine, German engineering and Danish bacon, I must confess to a mild attack of the Little Englanders at the thought of a non UK pensions regulator.