Brussels, 2nd September 2002
Financial services: new FIN-NET guide will help consumers to complain across borders
The European Commission has published a new consumers' guide to FIN-NET, the cross-border out-of court complaints network for financial services. FIN-NET is based on co-operation between national dispute settlement bodies and is the first fully functioning cross-border alternative dispute resolution (ADR) network in the European Union. As such, it plays a key role in the Commission's drive to develop a true Internal Market in retail financial services. The new Guide, part of the Dialogue with Citizens initiative to raise people's awareness of their rights within the Internal Market, aims to help European citizens to understand and use the FIN-NET network. The guide is available in all eleven official EU-languages, inter alia by calling the Europe Direct Call Centre (00800 67891011). One and a half million copies will be distributed. It is also available online at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/finances/consumer/
"If we want a true Internal Market in retail financial services, we need to build consumer confidence so that citizens feel at ease about buying financial services in another Member State, in cases where they can get better value. So we need to make sure consumers know that they can get out-of-court redress over problems which may arise" said Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. "FIN-NET makes it much easier to complain 'cross-border'. It will help businesses and consumers to resolve disputes fast and efficiently without lengthy and expensive legal action."
The Guide gives consumers information about:
After a one-year pilot phase, FIN-NET is now fully operational. The results of the pilot year were very satisfactory. More than 400 complaints related to banking, insurance or securities were dealt with between February and December 2001. The network now comprises 41 members.
FIN-NET aims to make cross-border complaining more "user friendly" by overcoming some of the practical problems in handling cross-border complaints. In order to create the network, the European Commission brought together existing and new national complaint schemes, under a co-operation agreement based on a Memorandum of Understanding.
FIN-NET has three main objectives:
The coverage of FIN-NET is most comprehensive in the banking and insurance sector, since the existence of national dispute settlement schemes is broadest in these sectors.
The Commission is now focussing its efforts on the further successful development of FIN-NET. The geographical and sectoral coverage will be improved and co-operation between the participating schemes will be intensified. The Commission is also giving high priority to making FIN-NET better known to European citizens. The Guide which has now been published is a part of that effort.
Standardised information on all FIN-NET member schemes is also available on the European Commission's web-site (http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/en/finances/consumer/intro.htm) as well as on the multilingual FIN-NET database (http://finnet.jrc.it/).