Brussels, 17th September 2002

PRESS RELEASE

Commission moves to prepare extension of FIN-NET financial services complaints network to future Member States

As part of its drive to help customers who buy financial services across borders to get redress if things go wrong, the European Commission is organising a seminar today and tomorrow in Brussels to pave the way for extending the existing FIN-NET complaints network (see IP/02/1258) to future Member States. Commission officials and senior representatives of existing complaint schemes in the UK, Greece, Sweden, France, Portugal and Finland will present to an audience of representatives from the accession countries the principles and practice of national complaint schemes and of the FIN-NET system linking them across the EU. The seminar will also provide a chance for the accession countries to inform the Commission further about their own existing schemes. The objective is to promote best practice in the creation and management of out-of-court redress schemes in the accession countries and ultimately to include them in FIN-NET after enlargement.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: "For the Internal Market in financial services to work and if consumer choice is to be genuinely increased, people need to be able to buy their mortgages, pensions and other financial services with confidence wherever in the EU they can get the best deal. FIN-NET is a key part of building that confidence and extending it will be key part of enlarging the Internal Market."

The seminar is organised by the Commission's Internal Market Directorate-General and the Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office, which the Commission set up in 1997 to help the accession countries implement Internal Market law and best practice.

FIN-NET aims to make cross-border complaining more "user friendly" by overcoming some of the practical problems in handling cross-border complaints. In order to create the network, the European Commission brought together 41 existing and new national complaint schemes in financial services.

FIN-NET has three main objectives:

The Commission is also giving high priority to making FIN-NET better known to European citizens. The Consumers' Guide recently published (see IP/02/1258) is a part of that effort.

Information on all FIN-NET member schemes is also available on the European Commission's web-site (http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/finances/consumer/intro.htm) as well as on the multilingual FIN-NET database (http://finnet.jrc.it/).