UPDATE 1-EU proposes Jan 1 2016 start for new insurer solvency rules
* EU proposes 2016 start for Solvency II rules
* Date removes uncertainty for industry, supervisors
* EU's Barnier says political deal on rules within reach
* Insurers say tight timetable will add to costs (Adds background on talks, industry, regulator's comment)
FRANKFURT, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The European Commission has proposed a Jan. 1, 2016 start date for new risk capital requirements for insurers known as Solvency II, hoping to remove the legal uncertainty dogging the sector.
The proposed rules, aimed at increasing the protection for consumers by forcing insurers to more closely match the risks on their books to their future obligations to policy holders, have already been delayed several times due to political wrangling.
But EU financial services chief Michel Barnier said in a statement on Wednesday that talks between the European Parliament and EU governments on finalising the rules are "progressing well" and that an agreement is now "within reach".
The talks had previously run into difficulty over the way long-term life insurance policies paying guaranteed interest rates would be handled under the rules. The policies are popular particularly in Germany and the Netherlands.
Insurers have complained that it would be unfeasible to offer those products without changes to the proposed rules.
Legislation up to now had pencilled in for January 2014 start but Barnier said this was clearly no longer tenable.
Industry trade body Insurance Europe on Wednesday said it welcomed clarity on the start date but said it would give insurers very little time to prepare for the technical details.
"The timetable will be very challenging for insurers and supervisors and will likely lead to a significant increase in costs for the industry," Insurance Europe's director general Michaela Koller said in a statement.
However, Julian Adams, the sector's top regulator in Britain, said he still had some concerns about the shape of any deal at the political level to finalise the rules.
"An appropriate degree of prudence should balance the pragmatism which will be needed to arrive at a compromise," he said in a lecture at the Lloyd's of London insurance market on Wednesday.
"In particular we would not want to see any reduction in policyholder protection or solvency standards as a result of the implementation of Solvency II compared with the current regime." (Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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