Says wide use of prior, genuine impact assessments needed when implementing it
BRUSSELS, 28 March 2017 – ESBG welcomes the publication by the European Commission of the Consumer Financial Services Action Plan, in particular the intent to privilege whenever possible dialogue with industry, examination and exploration of market situations, and voluntary approaches, over legislative action. This would acknowledge the significant consumer protection framework already in place, which enlargement would only burden society with costs at a time when strengthening the competitiveness of European economies is paramount. To add impetus to this approach, ESBG would suggest that when implementing this action plan the European Commission makes wide use of prior, genuine impact assessments, for which the input of stakeholders would be sought.
ESBG commends the objective to facilitate the cross-border use of electronic identification based on eIDAS, a fundamental requirement to build the Digital Single Market. ESBG would suggest that the deployment of eIDAS would be accelerated by ensuring that the private sector may participate at a par with the public sector.
The European Commission has made clear its intention to ease switching for consumers while improving comparison websites. ESBG welcomes this intention so long as it does not open the door for unfair practices which could distort competition. This same remark applies also to the Commission's resolve to facilitate cross-border loans and tackle the problem of over-indebtedness.
With respect to the planned examination of national consumer protection legislation, the ESBG would like to in advance warn against attempts of over-harmonisation. Due to the varying legal cultures and consumer behaviour across different Member States, this could (if implemented) result in adverse effects on consumers and economies as whole. On the other hand, it might be difficult to reach a consensus on such legislation for reasons stated. A similar comment applies also to the potential introduction of common creditworthiness assessment standards. One will quickly find out how diverse deeply rooted practices with regard to this exist in different Member States. At the latest, this will be apparent when the proposed legislation attempting to apply a one-size-fits-all approach encounters strict opposition from different sides.
Finally, with regard to possibly amending the distance selling requirements contained in the Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) and Consumer Credit Directive (CCD), the ESBG believes that any changes made should not amount to more than fine tuning as the implementing legislation is still relatively recent (especially in relation to the MCD), meaning that new amendments to relatively new rules could as a consequence present a shock to consumers.