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Brussels, 25th July 2003

Financial services: Commission to set up expert forum to look at policies from users' point of view (FIN-USE)

The European Commission has announced that it is setting up a forum of twelve experts to improve input into the definition of EU financial services policy from the perspective of users. The best available experts will be recruited under a competitive procedure following a call for applications published in the Official Journal and open until 10 September 2003.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: "Setting up this forum is part of our drive to make sure all interested parties, including retail and small business users, have the chance to contribute to policy-making on financial services. Integrating European financial markets will mean among other things that retail financial services customers will get cheaper mortgages and better personal pensions. Small businesses will be able to obtain capital more cheaply and put more innovative ideas into practice. The Forum will give those users a stronger voice and help them to play a more active role in defining the policies of which they will be major beneficiaries. It will also help make sure that EU policies and the way they are implemented are right."

The “FIN-USE” Forum will consist of twelve financial services experts, who will formulate policy recommendations to the Commission on EU financial services initiatives, with particular focus on problems encountered by users (retail consumers and small and medium-sized businesses). The idea of a user Forum was first proposed in the Commission's Communication on a Consumer Policy Strategy (see IP/02/657), and is line with its commitment, in the White Paper on European Governance, to open up policy making and make it more inclusive and accountable.

The Commission already receives much valuable input into its policy initiatives from the financial services industry but recognises the need for a closer dialogue with users of retail financial services.

However, until now it has been difficult to put into practice the kind of wide ranging and continuous dialogue that is required, as user groups often do not have the necessary resources or expertise, especially at the EU level, to cover all the issues.

The Commission plans to ask the Forum to identify key issues affecting users, comment on policy initiatives at an early stage, and formulate its own policy recommendations. The Commission will give the Forum the opportunity to request targeted research on issues within its remit, under a framework contract to be set up with a research organisation.

The Commission has invited applications from qualified experts in the field of financial services who are able to provide input from a user perspective. Experts will be selected from a list of candidates who have replied to the call for applications recently published in the S series of the EU's Official Journal(1). The closing date for applications is 10th September 2003.

All Commission calls for tender/applications are available electronically via (Enter the document number 122380-2003 for access to the call for applications referred to in this press release).

(1)2003/S 136-122380

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