The theme of this thesis is positioned between social policy (pensions) and Europeanisation of the welfare state, but where emphasis is put on financial markets and how to regulate these. National pension systems are usually categorised into three pillars; a public social security, occupational pension schemes and individual savings. In Norway most occupational pensions are organised on funded basis, in contrast to public pensions that are tax-financed. When pensions are established on a funded basis, these are inherent to the risks of the capital markets. How to ensure safe fund management and to deal with markets risks is then crucial.
In this thesis attention is given to the impact of European integration on these matters. The EU has lately put more emphasis on reforming national pension policies and pension systems in order to achieve a fully integrated Single European Market and to cope with the adversities of globalisation and ageing populations. This has also been evident in Norway where substantial reforms have been implemented, several expert committees set down, reports and drafts have been submitted and frequent changes adopted. A key question is then to what extent changes in the Norwegian risk management regime for occupational pensions have implied a regime shift, and to what extent these changes are explained by constraints and incitements produced by European market integration?
My research problem is consequently positioned in two large debates within political science; the relationship between states and markets on the one hand and the relationship between European and national policy-making on the other hand. Moreover, I also call into attention the complexity of regulating financial markets in an era of globalisation. Issues related to which extent regulatory capacity remains on the financial area and which regulatory level that possesses these competencies are illuminated. Modern welfare states have generally taken great interest in how capital markets are regulated and how pension systems are organised. Furthermore, this thesis also addresses the different regulatory philosophies that prevail on this issue. Two divergent styles of regulation is evident, one based on the prudent man principle, the other more paternalistic. These philosophies are related to the extent of ideological confidence in markets, but also how market norms are institutionalised into rules and regulations. Finally, I call into attention key aspects of pension reforms and how welfare states deal with the challenges (and risks) related to the ongoing demographic shift.