Publikováno: 5. 6. 2006
Following the discussions held during the Council's working party (latest 12th May), it was decided to bring the three sensitive issues contained in the modified proposal for the Directive on Consumer Credit to the ministers of the competitiveness council. It was decided that debate at this level would be more appropriate on harmonisation/mutual recognition, early repayment and contract comparability.
The main problem under discussion was that of the level of harmonisation. Whilst Germany and the United Kingdom are generally reluctant to harmonisation, the majority of member states see it as an opportunity to usher in a genuine European market for consumer credit. By contrast, a good many delegations are still opposed to the principle of mutual recognition on which the draft Directive in its current form is based. Trying to find a half-way house, the European Commission proposes combining total harmonisation and mutual recognition of consumer contracts, notably regarding advertising and consumer information requirements.
The big question, according to the Austrian Presidency, is where to set the level of consumer protection. It indicates that in view of the "scepticism" and "legal uncertainty" expressed by the majority of member states, mutual recognition will have to be reduced to just "a few activities".
The Presidency points out that the Council did make progress on the content of pre-contractual and contractual information, the right of withdrawal, deals linked to a contract and overspending. However they remain deeply divided on the early repayment of loans since the practice does not exist in many countries. Finally, Ministers offered no comment on the final question tabled by the Presidency regarding the comparability of contracts.
Discussions will therefore continue in the working group, before returning to the ministers during the Finnish Presidency.
Assistant to Patrice Pellegrino, Senior Adviser on Legal/Consumer and Fiscal Affairs