There is general agreement that Europe's new Solvency II capital rules for insurers should take effect in 2014, a year later than originally planned, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban said on Thursday.

There is a broad consensus in Europe that firms will be required to comply by 2014, with some 'soft' implementation from 2013, Hoban told a conference organised by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said in October it would assume a 2014 implementation deadline, but European authorities have not formally changed the start date.

Solvency II requires insurers to hold capital in strict proportion to the risks they underwrite, replacing national rules where capital varies according to turnover.

Some European insurers fear that the rules could lead to an excessive ratcheting up of capital requirements, and others have complained about the cost of preparing for the new regime.

The Association of British Insurers has put the cost of adapting to Solvency II at 100 million pounds for big multinational companies, while the Lloyd's of London insurance market has said it is on course to spend more than 250 million.

(Reporting by Myles Neligan and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by David Holmes)