General Insurance Article - AMICE welcomes EC report on mutuals


 AMICE, the Association of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Cooperatives in Europe, has welcomed the recent “Study on the current situation and prospects of mutuals in Europe”, published by the European Commission. The study provides an extensive overview of the role that mutuals play in Europe, of the legal frameworks in the 30 countries of the EU and the EEA, and of challenges and barriers that mutuals face in their operations.

 “This study is a milestone in the discussions about mutuality in Europe”, said Asmo Kalpala, the president of AMICE.

 “Renowned researchers have not only brought together a large amount of information about our sector. They have analysed the benefits that mutuals can bring to Europe and its society. And they have made a huge effort to identify and demonstrate the barriers that mutuals still face in the single market.”

 The study clearly emphasises the particular value of mutuals in the light of European economic instability and the financial crisis. Their characteristic features, namely sustainability, solidity, solidarity, democratic governance and social responsibility, contribute significantly to stability and play a crucial role in providing security to citizens. At the same time, it reflects the richness and variety of the legal frameworks applicable to mutuals in their respective jurisdictions. This provides adaptability and flexibility which is one of the strengths of the mutual business model, for example in the relations of the mutual with its member-clients.

 The study identifies four main barriers to a prosperous development of mutuals in the common market: Mutuals are not allowed in all EU Member States, the high capital requirements to start up a mutual, the lack of possibilities to form groupings of mutuals and, as the most encompassing and fundamental barrier, the general lack of understanding and knowledge about mutuals.

 The recommendations in the study are addressed to different parties: to the mutuals themselves, to national regulators and legislators and–last but not least–to the European Commission, on whose behalf the study was compiled, and the other European institutions.

 “We generally share the observations of the authors, although perhaps not in every detail, and take note of their recommendations. But this landmark study on mutuals now provides us with a clear task”, said Gregor Pozniak, the Secretary General of AMICE.

 “We have to spread more broadly, and with even greater emphasis, the knowledge about our business model, about its characteristics and about the documented benefits that it can bring to the European economy and society. The study provides us with additional arguments and documentation. But it will also be our task to ensure that the other stakeholders addressed, the national and European authorities and legislators, pick up on the recommendations for them. We stand ready to remind them of their obligations to society and of the possibilities that the mutual business model holds for European citizens.”

 The European Commission has announced that, as a next step, a public consultation will be held on the recommendations of the study and on possible follow-up actions. AMICE will remain involved and provide further comments on behalf of its membership on this occasion. 

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