Purpose and format of the public hearing
The objective of the hearing is to hold an in-depth and open discussion on the matters which are raised in the Green paper. The Green paper identifies issues for both financial providers and consumers which hinder the development and further integration of the retail financial services market in the EU and it asks questions about these issues. During the hearing, not only would we like to receive stakeholders’ feedback on the problems presented in the Paper, but more importantly hear their views about the medium- and long-term solutions that could be proposed by the Commission.
To that end, the hearing was structured along four sessions covering different aspects of retail financial services discussed in the Green paper:
Session 1: How can consumers access the best deals in the EU?
Today, we do not have a real single market for financial services. Only 3% of consumers have used bank services in another EU Member State. Only 1% of loans in the euro area are made across borders. Credit card fees vary drastically between Member States, as does the cost of similar insurance products. Developments in digitalisation give us a new opportunity to grapple with these issues. In the first session of the day we will explore how we can facilitate consumers’ access to the best deals from across the EU. What barriers do they face when enquiring about or purchasing financial products from other Member States?
Session 2: What about pan-European retail financial products?
One of the simplest ways of increasing cross-border competition would be to ensure that the same products are being produced and sold across Europe. In this respect, the pan-European opt-in regime is an instrument that can be voluntarily applied alongside the different national legal rules. Based on the lessons learnt from the UCITS experience and given the barriers to the single market imposed by varying national requirements, for which other products would further opt-in regimes be an appropriate solution, including e.g. in the area of life insurance?
Session 3: How can we make the most of the opportunities presented by innovation?
Digital innovation has the potential to change Europe’s retail financial markets for the better, producing products which are simpler, cheaper and more responsive to consumers’ needs. However, there are some barriers to this innovation taking place, and to innovative products and services spreading across the EU’s Member States. In this session we will explore the best ways of ensuring that digital innovation is good for consumers and that it does not encounter barriers at the domestic or European level.
Session 4: Trusting products from other Member States
Trust is important for consumers to engage in the financial services markets: financial products can be worth substantial sums of money, or give peace of mind if a citizen were to have an accident. However, the problems that consumers might have in trusting financial products are magnified when products are sold cross-border. Even where consumers can find products and where they are not blocked from using them, they may not take advantage of lower prices and better products due to a lack of trust. Likewise, they may lack knowledge about how to claim redress or compensation, and may have doubts about the effectiveness of such processes in a cross-border context. The final session of the day will discuss the best ways of providing assurance for consumers that products sold cross-border are worthy of their trust.