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Brussels, 27th March 2003

Mortgage credit: Commission invites stakeholders to help it open up the EU market

The European Commission's Forum Group on Mortgage Credit meets for the first time on 27th March. The Group includes more than twenty experts from eleven Member States. It will advise the Commission on how to make progress towards a genuine European market for home loans, which would make it easier for home buyers to save money by choosing mortgage products from lenders anywhere in the EU. National consumers associations, the credit and insurance sectors, and other stakeholders such as European notaries and chartered surveyors are all represented in the Group.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, said: "The mortgage credit sector is crucial to Europe's prosperity. Yet it is still very difficult to buy or sell a mortgage across a border. We need to change that. The creation of the Forum Group demonstrates our commitment to associating all stakeholders, from the start, in shaping that change".

His colleague David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, added, "Creating a single market in mortgage credit would be of great importance to consumers. Few if any financial commitments are larger than mortgages so if the market could be made more competitive and efficient, consumers would be the first to benefit".

The Group will have two ambitious tasks:

  • identify the main obstacles to the functioning of a genuine European mortgage credit market

  • formulate political recommendations to the Commission on the most appropriate ways to achieve such an integrated market.

Mortgage credit is a huge market, which, at least at the retail level, still remains mostly national. At the end of 2001, the total amount of outstanding mortgage loans totalled around €3.9 trillion.(1) Creating an integrated market in this field is expected to trigger price convergence. Studies conducted for the Commission this year show that expected gains for borrowers could be as high as 0.14% of the EU's total GDP.

The Group will meet regularly in Brussels, and will be expected to report back to the Commission during the first half of 2004.

(1) European Mortgage Federation, "Mortgage Credit in 2001-2002".

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