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Managing collective retirement schemes: occupational pension funds



Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision


It sets out the rules governing the activities and supervision of institutions providing occupational retirement provision (IORPs)* or pension funds in all European Union countries.


The directive aims to ensure a high level of protection for future pensioners (members and beneficiaries of pension funds) while guaranteeing efficient investment by establishing the following rules:

  • 1.

    Strict prudential rules, the specifics of which are to be determined by each EU country, to protect members and beneficiaries of IORPs who must have sufficient information about the rules of the pension scheme*, the IORP’s financial situation and their rights.

  • 2.

    Investment rules adapted to the characteristics of IORPs and to the efficient management of savings. IORPs are long-term investors that have to deliver the best returns to their members and beneficiaries at the same time as keeping their investments safe. If each IORP is to establish the safest and most efficient investment policy, the investment rules, and in particular the rules for investing in shares, must not be too restrictive.

  • 3.

    Rules permitting IORPs’ cross-border activity, enabling the creation of pan-European pension funds. Cross-border management requires mutual recognition of supervisory methods in force in EU countries.

This directive does not concern the institutions covered by the directive on life insurance and the directive on alternative investment fund managers.

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) is responsible for collecting information provided by EU countries on developments in cross-border arrangements of IORPs and for publishing such information on the EIOPA website.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 643/2014 on technical standards for reporting prudential national provisions to EIOPA.

EIOPA may draft regulatory and implementing standards and make recommendations for the coordination of supervision of IORPs. EIOPA cooperates closely with EU countries and the European Commission.

A new directive is expected to replace this directive as from the end of 2016, becoming applicable in all EU countries by the end of 2018.


It has applied since 23 September 2003. EU countries had to transpose it into their national law by 22 September 2005.


Occupational pension funds in the EU benefit from the principles of free movement of capital and free provision of services. Their cross-border activity is to be promoted. At the same time, all members and beneficiaries must receive adequate protection of their pensions through prudently governed IORPs.

For more information see:


Institutions for occupational retirement provision: financial institutions that manage collective retirement schemes for employers to provide retirement benefits to their employees (i.e. pension scheme members and beneficiaries).

Pension scheme: a contract, an agreement, a trust deed or rules setting out the retirement benefits that are granted and their conditions.


Directive 2003/41/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 3 June 2003 on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision (OJ L 235, 23.9.2003, pp. 10-21)

The successive amendments to Directive 2003/41/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.


Provisional text of the IORP2 directive as politically agreed in June 2016, pending formal adoption.

Report from the Commission on some key aspects concerning Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision (IORP directive) (COM(2009) 203 final, 30.4.2009)

Directive 2014/50/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility between Member States by improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights (OJ L 128, 30.4.2014, pp. 1-7)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 643/2014 of 16 June 2014 laying down implementing technical standards with regard to the reporting of national provisions of prudential nature relevant to the field of occupational pension schemes according to Directive 2003/41/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 177, 17.6.2014, pp. 34-41)

last update 14.09.2016