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Brussels, 15 June 2009

Financial services: Commission launches consultation on expert group report on credit histories

The European Commission has published today the report of the expert group on credit histories. The group had been mandated to identify solutions that would improve the access to and the exchange of consumers' credit data within the EU. The report and reactions to it will contribute significantly to the policy debate on responsible lending. The report, which does not necessarily represent the views of the Commission, will be open for consultation until 31 August 2009. This expert group was announced in the Single Market Review (see IP/07/1728 ).

Thanking the Group experts for their good work, Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: " The current crisis has shown how much irresponsible lending can adversely affect the whole economy. The availability of complete and accurate credit data is essential in order for creditors to assess the borrower's creditworthiness and, thus, lend more responsibly. Obstacles to the cross-border access to and exploitation of credit data is also one of the barriers to the development of lending activities within the internal market. The group has done a valuable work in identifying solutions, whilst taking into account key data protection concerns. We will examine carefully its analysis and its recommendations. I welcome reactions from all interested stakeholders on this report."

The report and its recommendations

The Expert Group on Credit Histories calls for action in a number of areas in order to improve the access to and the quality of credit data.

The report explains that credit data sharing between creditors is considered an essential element of the financial infrastructure that facilitates access to finance for consumers. The use of credit data in assessing borrowers’ creditworthiness is key in order to enhance the quality of creditors’ loans portfolio and thus reduce risks. It also assists creditors in complying with responsible lending obligations.

Differences in national credit reporting systems can however hinder cross-border lending. Different data content, definitions and registration criteria may render creditors' interpretation of foreign credit reports difficult and their information non-exploitable when assessing a credit request.

The report recognises the low appetite for and the high cost involved in radically changing national credit register systems. Thus, experts have rejected global and complex solutions such as setting up a pan-European credit register or aligning all Member States to a single (already existing or new) credit data model.

According to the experts, data access model choices should be market driven. Before being implemented, any solutions will need to be carefully evaluated in terms of their costs and benefits for both consumers and creditors.

Next steps

The report is open for consultation until 31 August 2009.

This consultation should also be viewed in conjunction with the parallel consultation on responsible lending and borrowing in the EU (see IP/09/922 ).

The report together with information on the consultation is available at:

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