* Insurance supervisor could mirror ECB role over banks
* Bank supervision changes more urgent than insurers'
* Politician touts Frankfurt as home for joint supervisor
By Jonathan Gould
FRANKFURT, Nov 20 Europe's insurers may get a
single supervisor, mirroring a plan to centralise banking
regulation under the European Central Bank, the head of the EU's
insurance rule-making body said on Tuesday.
"It will be very hard to have a single supervisory mechanism
for banks and completely fragmented national supervision for the
big insurance groups in Europe," said Gabriel Bernardino,
chairman of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions
Keeping supervision as it is would create opportunities for
arbitrage between regulatory systems as well as market
distortions, he told the Euro Finance Week conference.
Establishing a single supervisor for banks was more urgent
but the insurance sector needed to begin discussing a parallel
path in the near future, Bernardino said.
"We have time to think about it, we don't need to rush," he
said, declining to comment on whether his own organisation would
take on the single supervisory role.
EU rules prevent the ECB from supervising insurance but some
experts argue oversight of banks, insurance and markets could be
combined at a European level as it is in many individual
Before moving to a single supervisor, new risk capital rules
for insurers, known as Solvency II, must be in place, which
Bernardino said he expects to happen in 2016, after repeated
Regulators at EIOPA and its European counterparts, the
London-based European Banking Authority and the Paris-based
European Securities and Markets Authority, are turning their
attention more towards improving the consistency of supervision
among national watchdogs, after an initial focus on developing
common rules for EU countries.
The European Commission will examine next year whether the
three authorities should be brought under one roof.
In the meantime, the German state of Hesse is pushing hard
to bring any joint authority to Frankfurt, where EIOPA and the
ECB are already based.
"We are very positive given the signals we've received but I
don't want to make any predictions," Hesse's Economy Minister
Florian Rentsch said on the margins of the conference.
"It's not an easy process in the European context," Rentsch
(Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by David Cowell)