Today three years ago Insurance Ireland opened its doors in Brussels. Its third anniversary, however, is not celebrated in the brand-new premises which Insurance Ireland shares with Insurance Europe and sister association in the Ixelles commune in Brussels. The measures to fight the third wave of Covid-19 still makes working from home mandatory. And it will take some more weeks and months until boxes can be unpacked, and guests can be welcomed.
As for nearly all areas of social and economic life, the Covid-19 crisis and the measures in reaction to the spread of the virus also changed the way of collaboration and interaction for the Brussels Office. Moving closer to keep the distance, with the shift from the travel-intense organisational setting of the previous years into the virtual space, a more integrative approach was achieved which helped to maintain operational in Brussels and keep all channels open between Ireland and the continent. Insurance Ireland’s staff embraced the opportunity of a more regular exchange and flexibility of meetings which did not have to be aligned to flight plans.
While the internal operations continued without any significant problem, the modus operandi in political Europe changed. Instead of the intense personal interactions, meetings and events in Brussels, Frankfurt and capitals across the EU, written procedures, virtual stakeholder meetings and video conferences became the new normal. The intensity and scale of the political process increased. Numerous consultations and initiatives were launched in the past 12 months, to develop the political response and regulatory answers to the threat of the virus. In addition, the new ways of working and political pressure presented a political momentum for more ambitious plans on the regulatory side. Insurance Ireland’s team and members made huge efforts to advocate for their interests and to promote an integrated, innovative and sustainable EU single market (for insurance) of the future.
Insurance Ireland particularly appreciates that it could count on the reliable working relationship with EU and domestic institutions, supervisors and numerous other stakeholders to participate in the political and technical debate. Bringing the EU and domestic discussion closer to each other is a key objective for Insurance Ireland’s activities in Brussels and it was delighted that there is an added value for domestic and international members alike. A new approach towards the proportionate application of Solvency II, the supervisory treatment of discretionary payments during the stressed market situation and the debate on the response to the Covid-19 crisis are just examples in this respect.
The last 12 months also meant substantial change in the institutions. Irish Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe was elected as President of the Eurogroup and Ireland’s most prominent Member of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness became the European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Markets and the Capital Markets Union. In this capacity, Commissioner McGuinness will be in the driver’s seat for some of the most important regulatory initiatives for the Irish insurance market, like the reviews of Solvency II and the Insurance Distribution Directive or the sustainable and digital finance packages. Finally, an important term has come to an end. In February 2021, the second term of EIOPA Chair Gabriel Bernardino expired. Gabriel Bernardino was the first Chair of EIOPA and led the Authority for ten years. He was also the first official guest who Insurance Ireland welcomed in its offices in Brussels in 2018. The race for his succession is still ongoing. Notwithstanding who will be the next EIOPA Chair, Insurance Ireland is looking forward to continuing its engagement with its colleagues in Frankfurt.
Insurance Ireland would like to thank its members and all of you who worked with us in the past three years. We are committed to continuing our engagement for a more integrated, innovative and sustainable EU single market of the future.
Moyagh Murdock says:
Like the Brussels Office, my anniversary has just occurred as CEO of Insurance Ireland. Unfortunately, with the ongoing restrictions, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Brussels office yet but the restrictions haven’t hindered the great work of Florian and Insurance Ireland to represent our members at an EU level and to promote the industry effectively and positively.
I am looking forward to visiting Brussels at the earliest opportunity and also to meet in person all of the dedicated members of Insurance Ireland not just in Brussels but also here in Ireland!
Brussels/Dublin, 16th April 2021