Good afternoon and welcome to our College read-out.
Before moving to the subject of this press conference on the Review of the Solvency II Package, let me give you a brief overview of what else we discussed.
Today, the College adopted a proposal on the review of the Generalised Scheme of Trade Preferences for low-income countries.
I will give a second press conference, just after this one, to explain the details of this proposal to you.
Furthermore, the President debriefed on the discussions she attended in the context of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
She focused in particular on the issue of the fight against climate change in the run-up to the COP26 in Glasgow.
A “tour de table” was held on the announcement by the US, the UK and Australia on their AUKUS partnership.
Let me now turn to the subject of this press conference.
Ladies and gentlemen - thank you for coming today.
We can be proud of our world-leading regime for insurance and reinsurance. It allows Europe's insurers to protect people and businesses against all kinds of risk.
From sickness, disability and job loss to harm caused by unexpected events and disasters.
What may be less obvious to many people is how much Europe's insurance companies invest in our economy.
They play a dual role: protector and investor. Insurers represent a key source of long-term financing for European businesses.
They collect around one trillion euros in premiums every year.
They manage assets worth about 10 trillion euros - close to three-quarters of the EU's GDP.
And they channel this money into the real economy.
In fact, they are a mainstay of the financial industry. Given the uncertain economic environment, we need them to stay that way.
They can also play an important role in Europe's recovery, as well as contributing to the Green Deal and advancing with the Capital Markets Union.
For Europe's insurance sector to remain strong, it needs strong rules. This is what the Solvency II regime is all about.
Its rules have to work seamlessly under normal conditions and in periods of financial stress as well.
They must be fit for purpose and keep up with new realities.
This is why we are proposing some changes to the Solvency II rulebook.
Firstly, we plan to change capital requirements for insurers' long-term equity investment.
The idea is to free up capital for insurers and allow them to ramp up their contribution as private investors in Europe's recovery.
We expect up to €90 billion could be released in the first year.
We aim to reduce excessive short-term volatility, strengthen cross-border supervision and create a new category of low-risk profile insurers who benefit from simplified requirements.
Insurers will also have to take more account of climate and sustainability risks in their risk management.
These rule changes complement the prudential rules with our proposal for insurance recovery and resolution, which has been a gap in EU policy so far.
All this will take into account some risks that have not been well addressed up to now, as well as increase the quality of supervision. It helps to improve protection of policyholders too.
This is not a technocratic exercise.
Nor is it an exercise just for the sake of it.
Solvency II has proved its worth. It has worked well during the crisis and helped EU insurers to get through difficult times.
But given the many challenges that we are facing, this legal regime must be regularly evaluated and updated - especially as we embark on the recovery phase.
The changes that we propose today will better protect Europe's consumers and the stability of its financial system tomorrow.
At the same time, they will enable insurance companies to invest more in sustainable projects and the real economy, creating more jobs and more economic growth.
Thank you and now over to Mairead.