Brussels, 30 September 2010
Financial Services: Commission requests Slovenia to comply with EU rules on complementary health insurance
The European Commission has today decided to request Slovenia to ensure that its rules on complementary health insurance comply fully with the EU non-life insurance Directives and with EU rules on free movement of capital and the freedom to provide services. The Commission considers that Slovenia's current rules may lead to distortions in the Single Market for insurance. The Commission's request to Slovenia takes the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of EU infringement procedures. If Slovenia does not respond satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
What is the aim of the EU rules in question?
Since the 1970s, the EU has adopted several Directives that promote the economic efficiency and integration of the European insurance market. A common legal framework has been built to allow insurers to operate throughout the EU, to establish themselves and to provide their services freely. Apart from ensuring more competition, the legal framework also protects consumers.
How is Slovenia not respecting these rules?
The Commission has learned that a number of provisions of the Slovenian Health Care and Health Insurance Act (ZZVZZ) are not in line with basic freedoms laid down in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the EU Non-life Insurance Directives. According to the Act, foreign health insurers are required to appoint a representative to deal with the Slovenian authorities. In the Commission's view, this obligation impinges on a foreign health insurer's freedom to provide services (Article 56 of the TFEU), as under this fundamental freedom, a health insurer does not have to establish itself in the Member State where it wants to offer its services.
Furthermore, despite Slovenia's claims to have an open and liberalised insurance market, health insurers are restricted to using their profits for distribution to their shareholders, which according to the Commission would clash with EU rules on the free movement of capital (Article 63 of the TFEU).
Finally, the Act prescribes that insurers must notify their insurance terms to the Slovenian supervisory authority. In addition, in case this authority has doubts, for example about the rise in premiums, it may appoint an independent certified actuary to investigate further. Based on the actuary's findings, the Slovenian supervisory authority could decide on further actions against the health insurer. According to the Commission, this measure implies disproportionate state intervention that would not be in line with the open and liberalised insurance market and the EU's non-life insurance Directives.
How are citizens and businesses suffering as a result?
The rules outlined above restrict the ability of health insurers from other Member States to establish themselves and offer their services in Slovenia. This prevents other health insurers from competing on the Slovenian insurance market and limits the choice available to Slovenian consumers.
Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States:
For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/457.