The European Commission has officially proposed a postponement of the January 2014 start date for the implementation of Solvency II, according to a statement from Michel Barnier, the commissioner responsible for internal markets and services.

“I have always wanted rapid implementation of Solvency II. But the currently planned date is simply no longer tenable,” said Barnier’s statement posted on the Commission website on Wednesday, explaining why the Commission put forward a draft directive postponing the Solvency II application date until Jan. 1, 2016 at his request.

“We have therefore proposed this postponement in order to avoid any legal uncertainty, especially for undertakings and supervisory authorities; we have done this only after obtaining assurance from the Council and the Parliament that they would not further change this new application date of Solvency II,” the statement says.

The statement refers to progress on a legislative proposal known as “Omnibus II,” which modifies provisions of Solvency II relating to long-term life insurance guarantees.

“An agreement between Council and European Parliament is within reach. But it will not be possible to publish the Omnibus II Directive in the Official Journal” before Jan. 1 2014, Barnier’s statement said. “Moreover, before Omnibus II can be applied, a number of implementing measures are needed, and these cannot be finalized before the details of Omnibus II are known,” the statement said.

Solvency II was on the minds of attendees at at the Risk Management Forum of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA), where not everyone favored the idea of a delay.

Professor Karel Van Hulle, of the Business and Economics Faculty at the Catholic University of Leuven, and the former head of insurance and pensions at the European Commission, warned that further delays would compromise the ability of European insurers to deliver protection for their clients in a riskier world.

Barnier’s omplete statement is available at