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Eurosif October Newsletter
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Dear Colleagues,

Some eventful months have gone by since our last newsletter and it is always with pleasure that we look at how much sustainability issues and sustainable finance are gaining group day by day in Europe and abroad. Last July, the European Parliament voted in favour of creating a label for social enterprises. The 77% majority gives a good signal that Europe is ready to grant a statute for social and solidarity-based enterprises. The vote came after the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs adopted a motion in support of the set-up of a label specifically focusing on identifying Social Economy actors in Europe. The purpose of this label would be to identify good practices and standards for social enterprises. The member of the European Parliament who has been leading the process, Jiří Maštálka, (from the far-left Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left GUE/NGL) has been the rapporteur supporting this process since 2017 when the issue of a proposal for an EU definition for these actors was still under discussion. Original plans around the proposal for a legal definition at European level had soon been abandoned in view of the different legislation existing in every member state. A label would instead allow relevant players identify themselves when applying for funding. Last October, the Committee on Legal Affairs at the European Parliament had already delivered a draft report which contained clear recommendations for the Commission in favour of a Statute for social and solidarity-based enterprises.
Previous European Parliament positions included earlier resolutions, like the one in 2015 on ‘Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation in combating unemployment’, which called for creating the necessary framework conditions for a system of social innovation, facilitating access to public procurement, and improving access to funding. Back in 2013, with a resolution on the ‘Contribution of cooperatives to overcoming the crisis’, the Parliament pointed out the resilience of this type of enterprises in face of the fluctuations of the economic cycle and their critical role in integrating disadvantaged workers. It was still back in 2013 that the European Parliament had also supported the establishment of EU-level legal forms for social economy actors in its resolutions on the Statute for a European mutual society, on the Statute for a European Foundation of 2013 and on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees of 2012. This was certainly a very positive achievement, good for the industry and the economy and one that I have been personally encouraging also as member of the High-Level Expert Group (HLEG), where in the final report we highlighted how a label that can act as ‘identifier for social enterprises in the euro area’, leading for official recognition of the social economy and social enterprise, could help empower these players.
Also this summer,  the European Supervisory body, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, EIOPA, announced the appointment of its latest Stakeholders Groups composition. As part of the regulation for the establishment of a European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) Stakeholder Groups, dating back to 2010, both Parliament and Council have established that the role of these groups would be to “help facilitate consultation with stakeholders in the areas relevant to the tasks of the Authority”. Both the Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group and the Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group are tasked with “submitting opinions and advice to the Authority on any issue related to the tasks of the Authority”.
The mandate of the past Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group (OPSG), which ended earlier this year, included a set of subgroups that specifically looked at: Occupational pensions, Consumer Protection and Personal Pensions. The topic of sustainable finance will be certainly featuring prominently this mandate and hopefully, the topic will be included across all the sub-groups. Eurosif has been selected to participate in the Occupational Pensions Stakeholder Group along with other players much involved in the topic of sustainable finance, investments and pensions. Eurosif has worked very closely with EIOPA in the past two years to drive forward issues around ESG transparency and sustainable finance. We hope this will be another worthy opportunity for the European institutions to bring more focus on sustainable finance getting strong alignment from all the players in the industry. On the 17th of October, the OPSG had its first meeting in Frankfurt, to determine the governance and structure of the sub-committees and their work for the next two and a half years. 


 
Always regarding pension, in September we witnessed the latest and positive news around the European project in support of a framework on personal pensions, known as PEPP, which makes up for the fragmentation of the personal pension market, the limitations both in terms of choice and attractiveness of products, along with the increased costs for pension savers. The EU’s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee has approved a draft rulebook for the planned pan-European personal pension product (PEPP), including consumer protection and sustainable investment requirements. This step can be considered a rather positive conclusion in a very interesting European policy chapter. The market fragmentation, which characterises the pension market in the EU today, has hampered diversification, innovation and economies of scale, while contributing to higher costs and a lack of liquidity in the capital markets. Against this backdrop the European Commission’s 2012 pensions White Paper called for more opportunities for citizens to be able to save in safe and good value complementary funded pensions. The PEPP has the potential to foster the development of a large and competitive European market for personal pensions. The willingness of the European Commission to encourage a stable, sustainable and growing economy, certainly entails a healthy pension system which savers can trust, that allows them to continue spending through their retirement years and which does deliver its promised benefits. The delicate equilibrium between spending and consumption is an important element of a healthy economy, especially while we are faced with increasing longevity. PEPP means that individual savers and providers will both profit from an enlarged, more transparent and more competitive market. The work of the European Parliament and the positive vote indicates good results in terms of improving product’s specifications, enhancing transparency and therefore improving consumer protection. Sophia in ‘t Veld, the Dutch MEP for the Liberal Democrats in Europe and rapporteur for PEPP, was very positive about the work achieved so far and the result. The regulation includes specific parameters for sustainable investing and targets in line with the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The role played by EIOPA has been and will continue to be instrumental to the work around PEPP, both in guaranteeing consumers’ protection and the quality of the framework and of all PEPPs. Though issues such as the fiscal treatment still remain pending, the Parliament offered two valid options to Member States, to either opt for a local understanding of PEPP also in terms of rights or develop a European fiscal regime. Over the next months, Parliament and Council will be exchanging on how to combine their perspectives in view of the final vote.

Happy reading,

Flavia Micilotta
Eurosif Executive Director

On the 26th of November, Eurosif launches the new SRI study 2018.
Discover more on Eurosif's website.

Eurosif welcomes King Baudouin Foundation as a new member.
Read the news on Eurosif's website.

Eurosif becomes an official member of Tobacco Free Portfolios.
Read the news on Eurosif's website.

 

InFocus: King Baudouin Foundation

The King Baudouin Foundation (KBF) was established in 1976 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of King Baudouin’s reign. It is an independent foundation, administered by a Board of Governors. KBF’s mission is to achieve a better society by helping to improve living conditions of the population. KBF is operational in Belgium, Europe and at international level, it supports projects and citizens who are committed to create a better society. In order to make a lasting contribution towards greater justice, democracy and respect for diversity.
Read the full InFocus.

FNG-label awards: November, 29th in Frankfurt/Main

The SRI quality standard FNG-Siegel makes big steps forward on its way of being established on the German-speaking markets. The record number of funds that applied for this year’s edition is a good proof. Furthermore, due to its holistic and differentiating approach, the SRI quality standard of the FNG - the SIF representing Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein is a good basis for the current discussions regarding the development of a pan-European SRI-label. Currently, the FNG-Siegel is supported by asset managers from nine European countries.
Finally, from a sales perspective, important fund platforms as well as wealth managers opted for the FNG-label as their SRI-reference. Furthermore, selective institutional investors are increasingly making the FNG-label or its minimum requirements a requirement for participating in calls for proposals for new SRI money.
FNG is awarding the FNG-label for the fourth time, on November 29, in Frankfurt/Main, discover the event here.

Communication campaign «A bear in Paris»

  On October 1st, 2nd and 3rd, a starving and exhausted polar bear on his iceberg could be seen in front of Paris’ Palais de la Bourse. This shocking scene was there to raise awareness among bystanders and bring them on #ExigezISR and on the dedicated website, informing them on responsible investment and what can do to fight climate change but also other topics like employment, biodiversity, gender equality or human rights. See tweets about #ExigezISR.  
 

Results of the 9th survey on the “French and sustainable finance” by Ifop for French SIF & Vigeo Eiris

The survey was conducted in August 2018 and shows that 63% of French people which have at least one savings product declare that they attach importance to social and environmental impacts in their investment decisions. But this figure is out of phase with only 5% of them who have been offered an SRI product by their financial advisor.
It also shows that surveyed people consider that social (employment: 78%, human rights respect: 76%, work conditions: 72%, gender equality: 70%) and environmental (pollutions: 80%, climate change: 71%) topics should be addressed with high priority by responsible investors. Read the results (in French).

 
SRI label
As of October 2, 166 funds from 36 asset managers have obtained the French SRI label for around 45 billion euros of assets under management. Discover more here
 

Italian SRI Week to be back from 13 to 22 November

November is approaching and so the Italian SRI Week: promoted and coordinated by FFS for the seventh year in a row, the initiative is one of the main events in Italy dedicated to sustainable investment.
On the 13th of September, FFS unveiled the official programme (english), including 13 conferences on some of the most topical SRI issues like gender, circular economy, social issues, emerging areas, European SRI policy developments, and pension funds. 
You can read more about the events promoted by FFS during the SRI week on its press release (english).

ABP winner VBDO Benchmark Responsible Investment Pension Funds 

ABP, the pension fund for the government and education sector, has the best developed responsible investment policy of the Dutch largest pension funds. The ten best-performing pension funds in the field of responsible investment rise well above the other forty pension funds. The midfield appears to stagnate and half of the funds do not set long-term goals on responsible investment yet. This is revealed in the 'VBDO Benchmark Responsible Investment by Pension Funds in the Netherlands 2018', presented on 11 October in Rotterdam. It is for the twelfth time that the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) has executed this benchmark among the fifty largest Dutch pension funds. Find more details here

Spanish SRI annual event in October

On October 16th, the new edition of the Annual Event Spain, the most important Spanish Sustainable Investment event, was held at the Cecabank Headquarters. 
The panel was a great occasion to bring together professionals, national and international sectors, who shared their experience with the attendees. You can see the speakers here.
On this occasion, was presented the biennial study of Spainsif, that underlines the new figures of the Spanish market in Sustainable Investment. The event was also an opportunity for exchange with different representatives of our association on the barriers for the retail investor in the Sustainable Investment and, therefore, Opportunities that can be raised.
Read more about the event on its website

Good Money Week 2018

From the 29th of September to the 5th of October, the Good Money Week 2018 took place in London, with the direct coordination of UKSIF. This year the event focused on women and investment while raising awareness of ethical, sustainable and responsible options. 
Sign up here and download the ‘Women's Guide to Investing’.
Watch the video ‘Who Fund the World? Investing tips from women, for women’ realised for the event.

 

UKSIF Policy Updates - Budget 2018 Highlights

On the 29th of October, the Chancellor unveiled the 2018 Autumn Budget. Listening to the speech you could be forgiven for thinking there was nothing of interest to the Sustainable and Responsible Investment sector. There were, however, a few interesting announcements hidden away in the budget document itself. The following is a summary of those key points which may be of interest to UKSIF members. Quotes are taken directly from the budget document or the speech itself.
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