ABI director general on lobbying trip to persuade Europe's legislators to act

The ABI has admitted it is largely powerless to affect European legislation ahead of newly-appointed director general Stephen Haddrill's lobbying trip to Brussels this week.

Haddrill and other senior representatives of the ABI will be meeting the Commission and MEPs in order to express their support of Commissioner Charlie McCreevy's consultative paper on the Financial Services Action Plan.

But Hugh Savill, the ABI's head of European and international affairs, said: "A huge proportion of legislation facing the industry stems from Europe and to that extent we can only outline the importance of UK insurance and hope we are successful."

Savill admitted that the ABI would not be negotiating the issue of VAT exemptions arising from a recent ECJ ruling because "a decision has already been made".

He also said that, although several European nations had failed to incorporate the Insurance Mediation Directive by the January 2005 deadline, the European Commission was traditionally slow to impose sanctions on straggling nations.

On the issue of the shelving of the proposed European Constitution, Savill said: "The no-vote may make it more difficult for member states to reach agreement in the future.

"It marks a change in mood which could demonstrate a lack of political will."

On the agenda
ABI director general Stephen Haddrill will be lobbying European decision-makers to put Commissioner McCreevy's green paper on financial services into action.

Under discussion
A more risk-based approach to regulation. Mirroring the Hampton Review, McCreevy says legislation from Europe must be subject to cost-benefit analysis.

  • A reduction in the 'stock as well the flow' of new rules.
  • Solvency II requirements introduced uniformly across all member states and with minimum 'gold-plating'.
  • The successful implementation of the Reinsurance Directive.
  • Legislative pause - the ABI will push to ensure no major legislation for the next two years, post IMD.