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Many industry observers consider Solvency II to be a worthy attempt by European regulators to forge a more uniform approach to safety and soundness supervision. Its impact extends beyond Europe: It has influenced global-standard setters at the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and—though some of my former colleagues might dispute this—has even had an impact here in the U.S. at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

See related blog: U.S. ORSA: What’s Next?

That said, many people, particularly at the NAIC, have voiced concerns that Solvency II so far is largely a theoretical exercise rather than a tried and true regulatory regime (notwithstanding certain countries that already have moved to risk-based regulatory frameworks, such as the UK, via its Individual Capital Adequacy Standards regime). The European Commission’s willingness to develop a full regime largely on paper differs from the NAIC’s approach of “tweaking” the U.S. regime via the Solvency Modernization Initiative. Moreover, timelines for its completion have been extended several times—and it is fair to say that Solvency II still has a long way to go before it is final.

Compounding this lingering uncertainty about Solvency II’s details is even greater and more existential concern about European strategies to overcome sovereign-debt issues in the face of a regional economic slowdown. In France, the region’s second-largest economy, consumer confidence has recently sunk to its lowest level since October 2008. In Italy, the Eurozone’s third-largest economy, the coupon on 10-year notes once again has eclipsed the threshold watermark of 7 percent—and recent Italian unemployment data reinforces this negative trend. And Germany, the largest and most robust economy in the Eurozone, saw retail sales dip for the second straight month and factory orders decline, both of which indicate it is not immune to the wider continental malaise.

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