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ERFF Update on EU Retail Financial Services
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ERFF: European Retail Financial Forum

RFS Spotlight April 2018

Monthly EU Retail Financial Services update


Since its launch in October 2015, ERFF has been working with representatives of business, consumers, and EU policymakers to create consensus on value-added ways to open up EU retail financial services (RFS) markets. ERFF’s RFS Spotlight brings you news on EU RFS policy, events, and creating benefits for customers and industry.
 

ERFF workshop on Creditworthiness Assessments & Consumer Credit


ERFF welcomed the arrival of spring with a technical workshop on a topic that’s relevant to almost everyone: consumer credit. From buying a house or a car to funding a personal dream, credit is a key part of consumer financial services.

                
ERFF turned the spotlight on the Commission’s plans in this area at a technical workshop hosted by MEP Josef Weidenholzer on 27th March. Mr Weidenholzer opened the proceedings which focused on Actions 7 (cross border loans) and 9 (creditworthiness assessment standards) of the Commission’s Action Plan on Consumer Financial Services. His remarks were followed by thought-provoking impulse statements from Renatas Mazeika, Head of Unit, DG JUST, European Commission; Olivier Jerusalmy, Senior Research & Advocacy Adviser, Finance WatchEnrique Velazquez, Director-General, ACCIS; and Nadia Hazeveld, Legal Adviser, Eurofinas.

With the Commission currently mapping how credit is assessed and provided across the EU, the workshop was a timely opportunity to look at the challenges related to exchanging data on creditworthiness and offering consumer credit across borders. The insights from policy makers, and consumer and business representatives generated a lively solutions-focused discussion. Topics ranged from the use of bank statement data to assess creditworthiness and the reasons behind consumer over-indebtedness and exclusion, to the creation of standardized categories to help harmonize data used in credit assessments across the EU.

Note, ERFF will be publishing a Consensus Paper on these topics shortly. We'll keep you informed.
 

Meanwhile…   


It’s been a busy month for the Commission with the announcement of several proposals relating to consumer financial services as well as the high-level launch of its Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth.

Following publication of the final report from the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on Sustainable Finance in January, the Commission launched its Action Plan on 22 March 2018 with considerable fanfare. The funding gap to achieve EU climate and energy targets by 2030 is estimated at €180 billion each year. And the importance the EU attaches to involving the financial sector was reflected in the speaker line-up at its high-level conference in Brussels.

Keynotes included: President Emmanuel Macron of France;  Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Climate Action; Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker; Vice-Presidents Katainen and Dombrovskis; as well as HLEG Chair, Christian Thimann, and Oliver Guersent, DG Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union. See the full programme and recording of the conference, entitled ‘Financing Sustainable Growth’ online here.

Good news for consumers making payments across borders. On 28 March, the Commission announced proposals linked to Actions 1 and 2 of its Consumer Financial Services Action Plan. On Action 1 (cross-border payments), the proposal aims to cut the often significant fees attached to transferring money between euro-zone and non euro-zone EU countries. As per transfers exclusively within the euro-zone, such transfers should in future be charged at the same rate as domestic transactions. The second proposal on Action 2 (dynamic currency conversion) aims to end the confusion for consumers around the cost of currency conversion when making credit card payments or withdrawing money abroad. Under the proposal, consumers should be given clear information on the choices on offer before they finalise the transaction.

There was also good news for businesses and investors (including private individuals) who want to make the most of today’s online funding sources. On March 8, the Commission put forward proposals that will make it easier for crowdfunding platforms to operate across Member States.

In case you missed it, the European Parliament’s Draft Report on PEPP (Pan-European Pension Product) was published in February. It’s now awaiting a decision from the ECON Committee. In the meantime, ERFF is working on a Consensus Paper on PEPP due for publication in May.
 

Coming up…    
 

ERFF conference ‘Consumers at the heart of finance in Europe’, 29th June 2018 - This high-level event will be a unique opportunity to focus on consumer interests in the context of the Commission’s Action Plans on Consumer Financial Services, FinTech and Sustainable Finance. Jointly organized by ERFF and the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee), the conference will be open to policy makers, and invited consumer and business representatives. If you would like to receive further details, please contact us at info@erff.eu.

New Deal for Consumers watch out for an announcement from the Commission on its revision of EU Consumer Directives, scheduled for the 11th April. Here is a useful overview of the initiative from the European Parliament’s legislative train.
 

About ERFF

The European Retail Financial Forum (ERFF) brings together around one table consumers, business and policymakers to support the opening up of retail financial markets in Europe. Representing all aspects of the retail sector – traditional, wider investment and digital – we are consumer-focused, favour removing key barriers, and increasing choice and transparency for all in ways that keep Europe competitive.

For further information, please contact us at: info@erff.eu

ERFF Secretariat
 


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