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IP/07/1079

Brussels, 12 July 2007

SOLVIT: five successful years of solving concrete problems in Europe – faster

Since its creation in 2002 the EU's SOLVIT network has provided people living, working, studying, or doing business in another EU country with fast and effective solutions to over 1,800 concrete problems. These problems occur when national administrations apply EU law incorrectly and deny citizens and businesses their Single Market rights. For example, SOLVIT has made it easier for an Austrian company to sell its cheese in France, for a British hairdresser to open a salon in Germany and for a Hungarian doctor to work in Ireland. SOLVIT now aims to build on this success by increasing capacity and ensuring that more people are made aware of the service.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "Over the past five years SOLVIT has delivered real solutions to hundreds of real problems in Europe. And by getting all the parties together informally it delivers those solutions often within weeks, not years down the line. It's a great example of the EU and Member States working together. Over 1,800 Europeans can now do more in the Single Market thanks to SOLVIT – I hope the next five years will prove even more successful."

In November 2001, the European Commission pioneered the idea of an efficient, red tape-free network in which Member States would work together to find fast and pragmatic solutions for problems that EU citizens and businesses may encounter when they move or trade across borders. At the time, the idea was met with scepticism in some quarters, especially with regard to the informality of the approach and the short deadlines to be respected. Nevertheless, in July 2002 SOLVIT was up and running and delivering real solutions within a short time. Today, SOLVIT is regarded as an excellent model for effective cooperation between Member States in a variety of policy areas.

The five keys to SOLVIT's success

In the past five years, SOLVIT has built up a reputation as an effective problem-solving network thanks to its:

  1. Commitment to defending the EU rights of citizens and businesses
  2. Emphasis on fast and pragmatic solutions with the help of an online case-handling database
  3. Knowledge of EU law and access to Commission experts' advice
  4. Strong network of contacts with relevant authorities at national level
  5. Team spirit and friendly working relations

The main SOLVIT challenges for the future

In the future, SOLVIT aims to continue delivering a first-class service. To that end, national centres should be sufficiently staffed to be able to solve the increasing volume of problems that are submitted to them. Moreover, through improved promotion activities, citizens and businesses should become more aware of SOLVIT's existence.

Facts and figures

  • In 2002 SOLVIT registered around 10 new cases per month; five years later this figure has increased to 60.
  • Over the past five years, the average resolution rate for SOLVIT cases remained stable at 80 %.
  • Of all resolved cases in since 2002, 71% were resolved within the SOLVIT deadline of ten weeks.
  • Average case handling time decreased significantly from an average of 79 days in 2002 to 54 days in 2006.
  • Citizens submitted two thirds of SOLVIT cases. The major problem areas for citizens were social security, taxation and recognition of professional qualifications.
  • Businesses submitted one third of SOLVIT cases. Their main problem areas are taxation, market access for products, the provision of services and freedom of establishment.

Related EU services

SOLVIT is part of a package of free services designed to help citizens and businesses make the most of their EU rights, including Europe Direct, the information portal Your Europe (http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope) and the Citizens Signpost Service (http://ec.europa.eu/citizensrights) which provides personalised legal advice.

How to use SOLVIT

If faced with a cross-border problem caused by the incorrect application of EU rules by a public authority at national, regional or local level, citizens or businesses can fill out an online complaint form or contact their national SOLVIT centre by email or telephone.

The online form and all contact details for national SOLVIT centres are available on the SOLVIT website at:

http://ec.europa.eu/solvit

Annex


5 year anniversary selection of SOLVIT success stories





AT – AUSTRIA

France lifts barrier to market access for Austrian cheese

A French importer of Austrian cheese was summoned by the French authorities to send a consignment of cheese back to Austria, even though the same product had already been marketed in France. The French authorities objected to the presence of starch in the cheese and to the addition of 'de montagne' to the brand name. The decision was based on French national legislation, which was in contradiction to EU law since 'de montagne' is not an 'appellation controlée,' nor did the starch in the cheese present a danger to public health. SOLVIT France intervened and convinced the French authorities that they should give the Austrian product full market access.

Solution found within 12 weeks.


SOLVIT helps Austrian citizen to get his European Health Insurance Card

An Austrian teacher living in Austria and working in Italy requested a European Health Insurance Card in Italy. The Italian insurance authorities, however, refused to issue the card arguing that he should either have his residence in Italy or be registered as tax-payer in Italy. SOLVIT found that, in accordance to art. 14 f and art. 20 of Regulation 1408/71, the teacher was fully entitled to obtain the card. SOLVIT Italy intervened and clarified that a tax residence is not a condition for getting the European Health Insurance Card. Four weeks after, the Austrian teacher obtained his card.

Solved within 10 weeks.
BE – BELGIUM

SOLVIT Netherlands helps Belgian doctor resurface from a difficult dive

A Belgian doctor specialised in the medical examination of divers complained that the medical certificates he issued were not accepted in the Netherlands. The Dutch authorities required all divers not holding Dutch certificates to be re-examined by a Dutch divers' doctor as a condition for working in the Netherlands. SOLVIT Netherlands held intensive negotiations with the Dutch Ministry of Employment and Social affairs and eventually persuaded them that the Dutch rules were not in line with EU law and had to be amended. The case was successfully concluded by a formal letter of the Director of the department for working conditions in which he promised to revise the rules in line with EU requirements and, as an interim solution, to issue guidelines to the relevant instances so that they could adapt their practices immediately based on direct application of EU treaty provisions.

Solved within 14 weeks.


SOLVIT Portugal helps Belgian citizen to apply for public jobs in Portugal

A Belgian national who had been living and working in Portugal for several years was refused access to apply for a job in a municipality because she was not Portuguese. SOLVIT Portugal pointed out to the municipality that this was against the EU regulations prohibiting the refusal of employment based on nationality. Recognising their discriminatory practice, the municipality accepted the Belgian's application and confirmed that there would be no 'Portuguese nationality' restriction on future vacancies.

Solved within 6 weeks.



BG – BULGARIA

Ukrainian spouse of Bulgarian national gets visa to Spain
The Spanish embassy in Prague rejected a Ukraine national with a Bulgarian husband an entry visa to Spain. Her request was denied due to a two-year-old stamp in her passport from the Spanish embassy in Kiev denying an unrelated visa request. The officer did not know what this stamp meant, but recommended that the woman go to Kiev to remove the stamp at the Spanish embassy. SOLVIT Czech Republic found this in breach with EU law: issuing a visa to EU citizens' family members should be a mere formality and shouldn’t result in the denial of entrance to an EU country, nor should its issuing be charged by high fees or complicated by unnecessary administrative requirements. Since the Czech SOLVIT centre's communications with the officer at the Spanish embassy in Prague were not fruitful, SOLVIT Spain brought up the case with authorities in Spain. Soon after, the Spanish embassy in Prague granted the visa. Solved within 4 weeks.



Slovakian doctor working in Germany

A Slovakian doctor with three years of working experience in the Czech Republic was denied recognition of her qualifications in Germany. German authorities claimed she had not fulfilled the EC directive that states a qualification may only be recognised if one can prove working experience in one's own state of origin for at least 3 consecutive years during the five years prior to requesting recognition abroad. She received no answer after sending her diploma; a list of her subjects, exams and marks from the University; a certificate on the working period from the Czech hospital were she worked; and a certificate from the competent Slovak health authorities that her qualification was compatible with EU regulations. SOLVIT determined that, as long as Slovak health authorities agreed that she had been effectively and lawfully engaged in the necessary activities for at least three of the past five years, German authorities should accept this as proof of her qualification. In conclusion, SOLVIT Germany convinced the competent authority to recognise the Slovakian doctor's qualifications. She is now authorized to practice medicine in Germany.

Solved within 3 weeks.



CY - CYPRUS

Cypriot engineer registered with British diploma

A Cypriot applied to the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK) to register as a Mechanical Engineer with an MSc in Aeronautical Engineering he had obtained in Bristol, the United Kingdom. He was denied due to insufficient proof of qualification. SOLVIT Cyprus contacted ETEK to discuss the case, promptly after which they accepted the complainant’s professional qualifications and registered him as a Mechanical Engineer.

Solved within 1 day.


UK customs authorities pay refunds to Cypriot

A Cypriot national purchased a new car in the United Kingdom and used it there for one month before returning back to Cyprus with it. Although he had paid UK VAT at the time of purchase, Cypriot authorities requested another VAT payment upon his arrival in Cyprus. Upon further investigation he found out that, according to EU legislation, VAT should only be paid to the country of final destination. He was therefore obliged to pay VAT in Cyprus and entitled to a refund from the UK customs authorities, who nevertheless refused his request. SOLVIT UK was able to clarify the position with their customs authorities and get them to repay the VAT to the client.

Case solved within 3 weeks.




CZ - CZECH REPUBLIC

Luxembourgian Benefits for Czech Babies

A Czech citizen living and working in Luxembourg has been receiving Luxembourgian child benefits for his son born before he moved to Luxembourg. Now his Czech partner is on maternity leave, for which the Czech competent authority refuses to pay parental benefits until it is certain that she is not receiving similar benefits from Luxembourg. The family contacted SOLVIT because the competent Luxembourgian authorities are not answering them about their request for parental benefits. SOLVIT Luxembourg pressed Luxembourgian authorities on the matter, who decided to pay parental benefits to the client, deeming it unnecessary for them to collect parental benefits from the Czech Republic.

Solved within 10 weeks.


Czech paediatrician's degree recognized in the UK

A Czech paediatrician's specialized degree was denied recognition by the British General Medical Council despite the degree's conformity with the EU Council Directive 93/16/EEC. The problem lay in an incorrect presentation of the degree: the Czech Ministry of Health refused to present her with a certificate containing the name of the specialization and the date it was awarded to her, as required by the British General Medical Council. SOLVIT Czech Republic's intervention led the Czech Ministry of Health to provide her with her degree confirmation in the required wording. With that, her paediatric qualification could be recognised in the United Kingdom.

Solved within 4 weeks.



DE – GERMANY

German doctor's self-employment status clarified in Belgium

A German doctor living in Belgium opposed his classification as a regular self-employed person in Belgium. He claimed that his work as a doctor in Belgium had the character of a second job in addition to his full time job in Germany. Due to the improper classification he had to pay a social insurance in Belgium for 2003 and 2004 that was disproportionate to the low income he had there. The petitioner requested to be classified as an avocational self-employed person for the years 2003 and 2004 as well as from 2005 on. Further investigation involving the Belgian national institute of social security for independent workers, the German doctor's request was accepted.

Solved within 13 weeks.


German company pipes France

A German company producing cast iron pipes and special fittings was successfully marketing its products on the German market as well as in seven other EEA countries. The products were produced in Croatia and China exclusively on behalf of this company and accordance with EU standards. Nonetheless, French authorities required further testing to be done that would have cost the company between 30.000EUR and 40.000EUR. SOLVIT France contacted the competent French authority, who entirely recognized the fact that the products marketed by this company fulfilled EU norms. In conclusion, it was decided that the German company would not be required to engage in further testing in order to market its products in France.

Solved within 14 weeks.



DK – DENMARK

Vann, Vand, Vatten – It's all water after all

The Swedish daughter of a Norwegian company importing Danish and Norwegian food into Sweden was reprimanded in the municipality of Strömstad for labelling its products with the Danish and Norwegian words for "water" rather than the Swedish word. EU regulation states the labelling should be understood by the consumer, while Swedish regulation states that although product labelling should be in Swedish, another language is acceptable provided the spelling is such that the consumer can identify the product without difficulty. The company felt that, given the commonality of the word, the close proximity of Strömstad to Norway, and the general familiarity of Scandinavians with the three languages across their common borders, it should not be forced to change their labels for such a minor detail. When approached by SOLVIT, the municipality agreed to lift the barrier.

Solved within 5 days.


Danish roofing technology gets German green light

Three years after first trying to obtain an approval for its fibre-cement roofing sheets in Germany, a Danish building material company turned to SOLVIT to make sense of the many special requirements and regulations it had been facing from German construction authorities. As the roofing sheets had already been approved in several EU member states, SOLVIT confirmed that the long period of time German authorities were taking to handle the case was contrary to the rules on free movement of goods within the EU. SOLVIT's intervention sped up the process – more Danish fibre-cement roofing sheets for everybody!

Solved within 15 weeks.




EE – ESTONIA

Green light for Estonian car in Finland

An Estonian citizen living and working in Finland for two and a half years leased a car from an Estonian leasing company for personal use in Finland. Finnish customs seized the Estonian car claiming that, according to national taxation laws, the car could only be released after the payment of certain car registration taxes, a large part of which had already been paid in Estonia. After the intervention of SOLVIT Finland, it was established that the Finnish car registration tax could be considered an obstacle to the right of freedom of providing cross-border services for leasing companies from EU Member States. Taxation authorities revisited the case and promptly issued the appropriate tax.

Solved within 10 weeks.


Lithuanian daughter travels to Austria with Russian mother

A Lithuanian national and her Russian mother, both legally recognised residents of Lithuania, wished to travel to Austria together. The Austrian Embassy in Vilnius requested the mother to present a visa application and various additional documents concerning her living place in Austria, invitation to Austria, financial documents, health insurance, etc. Sensing an unnecessary lengthy treatment of the visa process, SOLVIT Austria requested a facilitated visa procedure which was granted after certain conditions regarding the process were clarified between both parties.

Solved within 3 weeks.



EL – GREECE

Greek citizen helped out of taxation trap

A Greek citizen had a temporary job in Denmark for three months and continued his stay in Denmark as a student. He had to pay taxes on the temporary income but could not benefit from the lower tax rate of 8% that applies for yearly income below 36.000 DKr for Danish tax payers. SOLVIT helped to clarify that the fact that the Greek citizen continued to reside in Denmark should be taken into account so that he could claim reimbursement of some of the tax already paid under the same rule as applicable for other Danish residents.

Solved within 3 weeks.



Cypriot residence permit for Greek claimant of social welfare

A Greek national acquired a Cypriot work permit upon moving to Cyprus. The following year, he suffered a serious industrial accident which permanently incapacitated him from work. Since then, the complainant had been drawing a disability pension from the Cypriot social security fund. He then applied for an additional public pension from the social welfare office, for which he was asked to present a resident permit. However, the Civil Registry and Migration Department refused to issue this permit because he was not employed. Seeking a way out, the Greek man turned to SOLVIT. SOLVIT's intervention convinced the Civil Registry and Migration Department to issue the residence permit, allowing him to continue with his application for social welfare public pension.

Solved within 4 weeks.


ES – SPAIN

Spanish worker gets his pension from Germany

A Spanish citizen had worked for some time in Germany and applied for a pension through the Spanish Social Security Institute, INSS. German authorities refused his application, pointing out that the contributions to his pension, i.e. DM1530.31, had already been returned to him via the Spanish pension authorities. The Spanish citizen insisted that he had never received the money. Following SOLVIT Germany’s intervention it was established that the Spanish citizen had indeed never received said contributions. The German authority confirmed that the pension would be reimbursed.

Solved within 10 weeks.


Recognising work experience across the EU thanks to SOLVIT

A Spanish citizen wished to have her professional experience as residential social worker in United Kingdom recognized in order to skip the practical modules of a specific training she was following in Spain. However, the competent authority argued that they could not take into consideration her experience in the United Kingdom because this could not be proved with the appropriate Spanish certificate for working experience. SOLVIT Spain contacted the authorities to convince them that the E301 form submitted by the social worker was equivalent to the Spanish 'vida laboral' and should therefore be accepted.

Solved within 8 weeks.


FI – FINLAND

SOLVIT Spain helps Finnish citizens to overcome bureaucratic hurdles

A Finnish pensioner had been living in Spain for 8 years. Whenever she returned to Finland for a vacation, she received the European Health Insurance Card from the Spanish health insurance authorities but with duration of only for 3 months. This was not convenient since she wanted to stay in Finland for a longer period. Moreover, Spanish pensioners received the same card with a validity of 2 to 4 years. SOLVIT Spain contacted the relevant authority about this discriminatory treatment and persuaded them introduce the same rule for both Spanish and other EU pensioners. As a result all applicants now receive the health insurance card with duration of one year.

Solved within one day.


Finnish dental practitioner can take up job in Spain thanks to SOLVIT

A Finnish citizen had applied for professional recognition as a dental practitioner in Spain. She did not receive a reply for many months and finally she contacted SOLVIT for help. SOLVIT Spain found out that there had been a misunderstanding about the procedure to be followed and they succeeded in speeding up the decision of the ministry so that the Finnish dental practitioner could start working in Spain.

Solved within one day.



FR – FRANCE

SOLVIT Netherlands helps French citizen obtain car tax reimbursement

A French citizen bought a new car in France where he also registered it and paid VAT. He then moved to the Netherlands with his car and registered it in his new place of residence. Dutch authorities asked him to pay the Dutch VAT and advised him to ask French authorities for the reimbursement of the French VAT. This request was contrary to EU law, since a change of residence does not justify the levying of a VAT. After the intervention of the Dutch SOLVIT centre, the Dutch competent authorities announced that they will reimburse the amount of VAT paid in the Netherlands to the client.

Solved within 7 weeks.


French citizen receives social security benefits in the Netherlands

A French citizen married to a Dutchman moved to the Netherlands where she wished to request unemployment benefits. In order to get these benefits, the French authorities needed to grant her specific form that would enable her to keep her rights while moving to the Netherlands. The French competent authority initially refused to deliver the document – contrary to what is foreseen by EU law on coordination of social security rights. Thanks to the intervention of SOLVIT, that authority finally agreed to send the form, ensuring her social security and unemployment benefits throughout the EU.

Solved within 2 weeks.




HU - HUNGARY

SOLVIT Ireland helps Hungarian doctor get his diploma recognised

A Hungarian doctor requested recognition of his medical diploma in Ireland. The Irish Medical Council refused the request, requiring further documents. While the doctor had received his diploma in 1985 before the date of required recognition of EU diplomas, he could prove that he had effectively and lawfully been exercising his profession for at least the required minimum period. EU directives state that his working experience should suffice for recognition of his qualifications. After the Irish SOLVIT Centre contacted the Irish Medical Council, the Hungarian doctor was granted full registration.

Solved within 3 weeks.


French sick leave paid to Hungarian sailor

A Hungarian sailor had been working in France for one month when he became ill. After completing what he thought to be the necessary sickness leave forms, French authorities refused him his sick-leave payment. Unable to further advance in the matter, he contacted SOLVIT. After investigating the case and communicating with the proper French authorities, SOLVIT identified the missing forms, enabling the sailor to obtain his sick-leave payments.

Solved within 4 weeks.



IE – IRELAND

Irish mortgages meet French taxes

An Irish woman wished to invest in property in France for which she wanted to take out a mortgage with an Irish mortgage provider. The French Finance Ministry informed her that the mortgage interest on the rental income would not be treated as deductible when assessing liability to income tax in France. However, if she were to take out a mortgage with a French mortgage agent, the mortgage interest on the rental income would be treated as deductible.
After investigating the case, SOLVIT found that revenues deriving from French sources should be determined in equal terms whether the owner does or does not have his/her fiscal residence in France. As there should be no condition tied to nationality or quality of the loaner, the interests of the debts constricted by a non-residing taxpayer to an Irish establishment for the conservation, acquisition, repairing or the improvement of a property are admitted to tax inference; SOLVIT determined there should be no problem for the Irish woman's Irish mortgage payment interests to be tax deductible in France.

Solved within 8 weeks.


SOLVIT defends the rights of Irish citizens' spouses

While flying between St. Petersburg and Ireland, an Irish citizen and his Russian spouse had a two-hour stopover in a Prague airport. Bad weather delayed their arrival in Prague, causing them to miss their connecting flight home to Ireland. Czech immigration authorities refused the Irish citizen's non-EU spouse her transit visa, despite the presentation of both passports, the Russian wife's Irish Immigration card, and her third country national visa stating that she is the legitimate Spouse of an Irish Citizen. They were forced to spend the night in the airport. After being contacted by SOLVIT, the Czech Ministry of Interior admitted that refusal to issue the visa to the client was not consistent with Czech legislation or appropriate procedures, and that it should not happen again. The approach of the Czech custom official was purely an individual failure and was not a consequence of structural problems concerning domestic legislation or the application of appropriate regulations. The couple accepted the apology presented by the Ministry.

Solved within 3 weeks.



IS – ICELAND

Icelandic citizen residing in Austria can still use his driver's license

An Icelandic citizen residing in Austria had a valid Icelandic driving licence. Austrian authorities informed him that, as he had been residing in Austria for more than six months, his Icelandic driving licence had automatically expired and he would consequently have to request a new Austrian driving licence. After the intervention of the Austrian SOLVIT-centre, it was clarified that the EU-rules on the mutual recognition of driving licences had been incorporated into the EEA agreement, obliging Austrian authorities to acknowledge the Icelandic driving licence.

Solution found within 5 weeks.


Icelandic doctor can start work in the United Kingdom

An Icelandic doctor had spent his professional career working in Sweden, Norway and Iceland. This doctor was offered a job in the UK. Before taking up the job, he needed to have his professional qualifications recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC) of the UK. Despite his professional experience in several Member States, the GMC refused to recognise his qualifications. SOLVIT intervened to point out to UK authorities that the refusal was contrary to EU legislation. The General Medical Council acknowledged the mistake and agreed to recognise the qualifications.

Solved within 10 weeks.



IT – ITALY

Italian diploma recognised in Portugal

An Italian social worker who previously worked in youth development programmes in Portugal moved to Portugal volunteer in a cultural centre promoting social integration, citizenship formation and multicultural activities and exchanges. Soon afterwards she was offered a paid professional traineeship at the centre as Manager of European Projects for Youngsters promoting European interchanges and multilingual intercultural activities. In order to begin her professional traineeship, she was requested to provide a Portuguese approval document of her Italian diploma. Getting her diploma recognised proved to be a lengthy and costly process, prompting her to contact SOLVIT. SOLVIT made use of its contacts in NARIC, a network which facilitates the integration of EU education systems, and obtained a formal declaration stating the validity of the Italian diploma. This declaration was accepted, enabling her to begin work at the cultural association immediately.

Solved within 2 weeks.


SOLVIT helps Italian citizen to get car tax exemption in Portugal

An Italian couple took up residence in Portugal and left their classic car in Italy with their sons. After three years they decided to bring the car to Portugal for their own use. The car was impounded by the Portuguese authorities because it had not been registered in Portugal and the 30% registration tax had not been paid. While Portuguese law foresees a period of six months for registering a car imported from another EU country, the authorities counted this period from the date of formal residence of the couple in Portugal, not the actual date of transfer of the car from Italy to Portugal several years later. As a result, the couple had to pay a 9.800 EUR tax plus fine for a 20-year-old car with a value of 1.000 EUR. After the intervention of SOLVIT Portugal, the authorities accepted to take the age of the car into account and exempted the Italian couple from paying the tax.

Solved within 7 weeks.




LT – LITHUANIA

Lithuanian daughter travels to Austria with Russian mother

A Lithuanian national and her Russian mother, both legally recognised residents of Lithuania, wished to travel to Austria together. The Austrian Embassy in Vilnius requested the mother to present a visa application and various additional documents concerning her living place in Austria, invitation to Austria, financial documents, health insurance, etc. Sensing an unnecessary lengthy treatment of the visa process, SOLVIT Austria requested a facilitated visa procedure which was granted after certain conditions regarding the process were clarified between both parties.

Solved within 3 weeks.


SOLVIT helps husband of Lithuanian citizen to get entry visa

Finnish authorities refused to issue an entry-visa to a Nigerian woman married to a Lithuanian national residing in Finland, claiming that "documents justifying the purpose and conditions of intended stay, or the contents of these documents, are defective or unclear." SOLVIT Finland informed Finnish authorities that according to EU regulations on the granting of visas for spouses of EU nationals, Finnish authorities were infringing upon articles of the EC directive by refusing the visa. Finnish authorities recognised their mistake and granted the visa.

Solved within 8 weeks.



LU – LUXEMBOURG

French benefits for Austrian citizen

After having worked in Austria for 13 years, an Austrian citizen left her job to move to France with her French fiancé. In France she experienced great difficulties applying for unemployment benefits. Despite repeatedly providing the proper documents, she was repeatedly rejected and told to provide other documents than formerly requested. SOLVIT France contacted French authorities in order to explain to them that the plaintiff had not been properly advised and therefore hindered from receiving unemployment benefits. The unacceptable manner in which she had been repeatedly misinformed was finally recognised by French authorities, who granted her unemployment benefits from the moment of SOLVIT's intervention onward.

Solved within 10 weeks.


SOLVIT helps Dutchman collect full pension rights

A 65-year-old Dutch national with extended working experience in The Netherlands, Spain and France faced some obstacles trying to collect his pension. Spain denied him his pension for the 16 years he worked there because he allegedly had not contributed to any EU country's social security funding at least two years in the last 15 years before retiring. Further investigation revealed that Dutch authorities had not provided Spain with the proper proof of the retiree's contribution to the Dutch social security system until his last working year. SOLVIT persuaded Dutch authorities to send the correct forms to Spain, enabling the retiree to collect his rightful pension.

Solved within 3 days.



LV – LATVIA

Blinded Latvian sailor receives Danish social security

As a result of his work on a Danish vessel, a Latvian sailor lost his eyesight, rendering him incapable to work any longer. The sailor applied for disability benefits from Latvia, his place of residence, but was told to apply directly to the Danish competent authority, who did not respond to his plea. SOLVIT established that, according to EU regulation, the institution of the place of residence (Latvia) is responsible to accept and process the application for the disability pension. Furthermore, EU law states that the client is entitled to receive pension from Denmark. As a result of SOLVIT's investigation, the application was re-submitted, accepted, forwarded to the Unit of International Affairs, and then sent to the competent Danish institutions for pension processing.

Solved within 1 day.


Latvian nurse working in Malta

A Latvian nurse living in Latvia for 26 years recently moved to Malta after marrying a Maltese national. Her diploma as a registered nurse was not recognised as valid for work due to alleged discrepancies in her certificate and period of employment. SOLVIT Malta intervened to clarify the validity of her Latvian diploma within the EU, allowing her to receive the necessary nursing certificate required for her job in Malta.

Solved within 10 weeks.



MT – MALTA

SOLVIT cuts Roman red tape for Maltese mediator

A Maltese citizen living in Italy wished to be registered as a "mediation agent" (Agente di Affari e Mediazione). The competent authority experienced difficulties determining whether he had the necessary qualifications for this activity. The administrative procedure was taking more than a year and prevented the Maltese agent from setting up his business. In one month, the Italian SOLVIT centre clarified the situation with the Italian authorities, facilitating the agent's enrolment in the register of the city of Rome.

Solved within 5 weeks.


SOLVIT quenches Maltese thirst for Norwegian water

A Norwegian company exporting spring water was perplexed when asked to provide proof of its conformity to EU trade and health standards by Maltese customs authorities. Since the company was already exporting its spring water to various EU member states, SOLVIT clarified the superfluity of such proof within EU regulations, giving the Norwegian spring water free flow into Malta's market.

Solved within 7 weeks.



NL – NETHERLANDS

Dutch company's work recognised across the EU

SOLVIT was contacted by an authorized independent Dutch company responsible for analysing precious metals and marking their presence in certain goods. According to Dutch legislation, the company fulfilled all relevant criteria necessary for their operations, resulting in their enjoyment of recognition throughout the EU. Their cost-efficient plans to partially outsource certain tasks to China nonetheless led Czech authorities to warn that they would withdraw their former observation of mutual recognition. Czech authorities were concerned that the quality of the company's inspections could suffer as a result of their partial outsourcing. Seeing as only the marking, not the laboratory work, was scheduled for outsourcing, Dutch authorities did not see a reason to withdraw the company's operational licence, deeming the Czech reaction contrary to EC legislation on mutual recognition. After it was guaranteed that the company would agree to transparency in its overseas procedures, the precious metals bearing the marking of the Dutch company were recognised in the Czech Republic once again.

Solved within two weeks.


Dutch pregnancy receives Spanish benefits

A pregnant Dutch woman who moved to Spain with her husband intended to apply for maternity benefits in Spain, but was told that her application could not be considered as she had not paid social contributions in Spain for at least 6 months prior to her request. Seeing as she had paid all necessary social contributions in the Netherlands for over three years before moving to Spain, SOLVIT argued that she should have the right to Spain's maternity benefits. SOLVIT's intervention clarified the situation to the relevant authorities, who invited her to reapply for her benefits using the proper paperwork. The payment was then promptly processed.

Solved within three weeks.



NO – NORWAY

Norwegian citizen receives Czech driving licence recognition

A Norwegian citizen living in the Czech Republic was refused recognition of his Norwegian driving licence under the justification that Norway is not a member of the European Union. After the intervention of SOLVIT the responsible Czech authority admitted that the current Czech legislation providing the recognition of driving licences from EU citizens also included citizens from EEA/EFTA countries.

Solved within 4 weeks.


Vann, Vand, Vatten – It's all water after all

The Swedish daughter of a Norwegian company importing Danish and Norwegian food into Sweden was reprimanded in the municipality of Strömstad for labelling its products with the Danish and Norwegian words for "water" rather than the Swedish word. EU regulation states the labelling should be understood by the consumer, while Swedish regulation states that although product labelling should be in Swedish, another language is acceptable provided the spelling is such that the consumer can identify the product without difficulty. The company felt that, given the commonality of the word, the close proximity of Strömstad to Norway, and the general familiarity of Scandinavians with the three languages across their common borders, it should not be forced to change their labels for such a minor detail. When approached by SOLVIT, the municipality agreed to lift the barrier.

Solved within 5 days.



PL – POLAND

SOLVIT Poland solves a car registration problem

A Polish citizen purchased a second hand car in Belgium. The car was delivered with incomplete registration documents (Part I and a statement from the Belgian police that Part II had been previously lost). In order to register the car in Poland, Polish competent authorities requested the applicant to provide an official confirmation that the vehicle had been previously registered in Belgium. However, the competent registration office in Belgium refused to issue such confirmation on a request of a private person, maintaining that such a request had to be made directly by Polish authorities. Polish authorities refused to make such a request, as according to Polish traffic law, the applicant himself should present all the necessary documents. As a result, the applicant couldn’t register the car. Thanks to intervention of SOLVIT Poland and Polish transportation authorities, it was found that the Polish traffic law was not in line with the EC directive in cases where the registration documents had been stolen or lost. Polish transportation authorities adopted amendments to the regulation which clearly state that when registration documents have been lost or stolen, Polish authorities will directly request the necessary documents to the authorities of another EU country. Furthermore, a specific e-form of enquiry in English is now available for this purpose.

Solved within 3 weeks.


SOLVIT Germany helps Polish entrepreneur register his business in Germany

A Polish citizen wanted to set up a company in Germany, but was refused by the competent German authority on the argument that the entrepreneur did not speak German. In view of the company he wanted to establish this requirement was considered disproportionate and therefore a restriction of the freedom of establishment. As a result of intervention of SOLVIT Germany, the German competent authority resigned from the language requirement and promised to admit the Polish enterprise.

Solved within 2 weeks.



PT - PORTUGAL

SOLVIT Belgium helps Portuguese citizen with registration at the Belgian unemployment service
An unemployed Portuguese citizen moved to Belgium to look for a job but her request for registration was rejected by Belgian unemployment services because she did not have a residence permit. However, such a permit is not necessary for the first three months of an EU citizen's stay in another Member State during which they may look for a job. SOLVIT Belgium persuaded the unemployment service to register the Portuguese citizen so that she could benefit from a language course and assistance in looking for work. Solved within one day.


SOLVIT UK helps Portuguese citizen get his taxes reimbursed

After working in Northern Ireland for over three years, a Portuguese national returned to Portugal. He was informed that he could obtain a tax reimbursement for which he filled in the necessary forms and submitted a declaration from one of his previous employers. For a second employer he could not submit such a declaration because the company no longer existed. Nine months later he had still not received the reimbursement. After the intervention of SOLVIT UK, the Inland Revenue service sent him a cheque for £520.44 and wrote him a letter of apology explaining the cause for the delay.

Solved within 7 weeks.



RO – ROMANIA

Romanian woman obtains EU work permit in Spain

A Romanian national and legal resident of Spain before Romania's accession to the EU contacted SOLVIT regarding his Romanian wife. She had also been a legal resident of Spain before Romania's accession, but did not possess a work permit. When she asked for an EU citizen residence card with free access to the labour market, her request was denied for unknown reasons. After SOLVIT's intervention, Spanish authorities recognised the case as a breach of the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union. The applicant's spouse was invited to reapply for the permit, this time with a positive outcome.

Solved within 3 weeks.


Unjustified Austrian treatment of Romanian bus driver under Spanish contract corrected
A Spanish bus company legally employing several Romanian drivers maintains a regular passenger transport service between Spain and Romania. During a border check of one of the busses at the Hungarian-Austrian border, the Austrian border police prevented the bus from passing through Austria as the Romanian driver could not provide proof of residence in Spain. The driver was unrightfully issued a ban on driving busses in Austria for the next five years. Moreover, the bus was forced to detour through Slovenia, to the serious inconvenience of the passengers, drivers and the bus company. SOLVIT Spain submitted the case to SOLVIT Austria, arguing that the Austrian police was not entitled to impose nationality or residence requirements, let alone prevent the bus from crossing Austria. SOLVIT Austria managed to convince the authorities that the police had made a serious mistake. Austrian authorities offered their apologies for the inconveniences caused, lifted the ban on the Romanian driver, and clarified their regulations to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.

Solved within 11 weeks.



SE – SWEDEN

SOLVIT UK helps Swedish citizen to obtain her unemployment benefit

A Swedish citizen applied for unemployment benefits in the UK in accordance with EU rules. The UK authorities took such a long time, that when they finally granted the benefit, the Swedish citizen had already returned to Sweden in order not to lose her Swedish unemployment benefit. The UK authorities then sent cheques to her previous English address while she was already in Sweden. When she mandated a friend to cash them in England this was refused by the post office and the cheques were blocked. Furthermore, the Swedish citizen tried in vain to obtain the necessary papers signed by the UK unemployment authorities to be presented to Swedish authorities. The UK SOLVIT centre contacted the authorities and the applicant received both the money and the missing form in Sweden.

Solved within 8 weeks.


SOLVIT helps Swedish widow to obtain survivor’s pension in Greece

Administrative obstacles in Greece prevented a Swedish citizen for several years from obtaining the survivor’s pension to which she was entitled after the death of her Greek husband. The Greek authorities did not accept the marriage certificate as valid proof and required that the marriage should be registered in Athens by the Swedish widow in person. SOLVIT Greece helped her to resolve all formalities so that she could receive her pension.

Case solved within 10 weeks.



SI – SLOVENIA

SOLVIT supports Belgian names for Slovene child

The child of a Belgian citizen was born in Slovenia with a double nationality. The parents contacted SOLVIT when the surname of the father and consequently the name of the child was refused by the Slovene municipality for legislative reasons: at the time, the relevant Slovene legislation would not allow citizens to choose personal names with more than two words for either first or last names. In March 2006, a new law was adopted that gave a legal basis to change the name in a manner that allowed three words in the last name. The applicant filed a formal request for a name change for the child which was granted and entered into the register in Slovenia by May 2006.

Solution found within 12 weeks.


SOLVIT helps Italian entrepreneur establish a company in Slovenia

An Italian entrepreneur wishing to establish a company as a self-employed person in Slovenia waited for three months with no answer to his residence permit requests from Slovenian authorities. SOLVIT Slovenia investigated the case and found out that a lack of language understanding was responsible for the confusion about which documents were necessary for registration. SOLVIT relayed to the Italian entrepreneur that a proof of registration as self-employed person and a proof of health insurance would help him obtain his residence permit. With help of SOLVIT he finally sent all documents requested and got the residence permit, allowing him to register his own company.

Solved within 3 weeks.



SK – SLOVAKIA

Slovakian nurse continues nursing her German patients thanks to SOLVIT

A Slovakian nurse wished to have her professional qualifications recognised in Germany. German authorities informed her that she had to pass an examination because her professional qualification did not meet the minimal requirements according to EC-law. Only 1 1/2 year after her application, the authority told the nurse that she might be entitled to obtain automatic recognition on the basis of acquired rights. German authorities requested therefore a certificate stating that she had three years -out of the last five years- of continuous practice in Slovakia. Unfortunately, since she had been working in Germany for the last two-and-a-half years, she could not fulfil that condition at that time. SOLVIT argued that, if the German authority had given the correct information timely, the Slovakian nurse would have been able to submit the requested certificate. SOLVIT persuaded the authority to accept an explanatory letter from the Slovakian Ministry of Health stating the nurse's 9-year working experience in Slovakia. In this way, the nurse could apply for the automatic recognition of her qualifications.

Solved within 4 weeks.


German car registered in Slovakia

A Slovakian citizen contacted SOLVIT after experiencing troubles registering his German car in Slovakia. The Slovakian authority denied the client's application because the car allegedly did not fulfil Slovak conditions concerning the permissible sound level, the braking devices, air pollution by gases from positive-ignition engines and the electromagnetic compatibility. However, the authorised importer confirmed that the client's car fulfilled all conditions set by the EC directives related to the aforementioned matters. SOLVIT confirmed that the Slovakian authority was handling contrary to EU law by inhibiting the client from taking advantage of the free movement of goods within Europe. After a further registration request, the client was transferred to the proper authority who could finally register his car.

Solved within 3 weeks.



UK - UNITED KINGDOM

SOLVIT helps British hairdresser open a salon in Germany

A British hairdresser with over 10 years of experience running a salon in the United Kingdom wanted to open a similar business in Germany. The German authorities rejected his application for a permit because his certificate of experience had allegedly not been issued by the correct UK authority. SOLVIT Germany intervened to argue that, in accordance with EU rules, the Chamber of Commerce had to accept the certificate. As a result, the hairdresser received his permit to start a business.

Solved within 1 week.


SOLVIT UK helps company weigh into French market

A UK company manufacturing medical scales wished to expand its market in France. The company was marketing its product in the UK and a number of Member States and thus conformed to EU rules. However, French authorities refused to accept the product on its market and requested additional testing. For over a year, the company tried to have their product accepted and finally asked SOLVIT UK for help. The UK company and SOLVIT UK worked closely together to successfully market the product in France in a matter of weeks. According to the company, SOLVIT helped them prevent a considerable loss.


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