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SOLVIT: Effective Problem Solving in the Internal Market

SOLVIT
   

Europe’s Internal Market offers many exciting opportunities to citizens who wish to live and work in another Member State and to companies seeking to expand their markets. Whilst the Internal Market generally works well, problems can sometimes arise due to the misapplication of European Union laws by national administrations. SOLVIT provides the means for citizens and businesses to resolve such problems without resorting to legal action.

Last update: September 2005


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What is SOLVIT?

Objectives

How does it work?

Achievements

Who benefits?

The role of IDA(BC)

Technical information

Documentation

What is SOLVIT?

SOLVIT is an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism that has been set up to help EU citizens and businesses who have been denied the possibility to exercise their European Internal Market rights because a public administration in another Member State has misapplied Internal Market legislation.

For a lively presentation of the SOLVIT project, do not miss the video clip hosted on the Commission’s Audiovisual Library website!
Now available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish.

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Objectives

SOLVIT aims to tackle these issues quickly and pragmatically, without the need for legal action. SOLVIT is not available via the Internet as cases can only be entered into the Database by SOLVIT centres. Users can find the relevant information on 'National SOLVIT centres' web page.

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How does it work?

The system operates through a network of SOLVIT Centres based in the national administration of each Member State. Applicants should initially contact their local SOLVIT Centre (the "Home" SOLVIT Centre), where the details of their complaint will be fully analysed. The Home SOLVIT Centre will then enter the case into an online database system, allowing it to be forwarded automatically to the SOLVIT Centre in the Member State where the problem has occurred (the "Lead" SOLVIT Centre). The Lead SOLVIT Centre should confirm within one week whether or not it will accept the case. The target deadline for finding a solution to the problem is ten weeks. The two SOLVIT Centres liaise with each other during the period of investigation and the Home SOLVIT Centre keeps the complainant informed of any progress and proposed solution.

The proposed solution is non-binding on the applicant and cannot be challenged. However, if a problem remains unresolved, or if an applicant considers a proposed solution unacceptable, they of course have the right to instigate formal legal proceedings. See also the 'About SOLVIT' section of the relevant website.

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Achievements

  • Initial success has been remarkable. In the first six months of its existence, 90% of the cases that were closed had been successfully resolved. Two cases exemplify the type of success that SOLVIT has had (please see also the Success Stories on the relevant section of the SOLVIT website). In one, a company from country A had been prevented from selling fire extinguishers in country B, even though the product conformed to the European standard. The SOLVIT Centre in country B managed to help to lift the barrier. In another example, a citizen from country C who had worked in country D and retired to his native country was prevented from obtaining his full pension rights because of red tape in the authorities from country D. Within a month of the intervention by SOLVIT, the client had obtained the necessary documentation.
  • The SOLVIT problem-solving network has already begun to work using a first version of software. This version includes much of the basic functionality required, but significant development is still needed in order to meet the specifications asked for by Member States. These specifications include notably, the possibility of having online registration of complaints by Intermediary bodies such as Euro Info Centres, Citizens Signpost Service, MEPs, etc and the provision of training to end users on both the technical operation of the system and the operational case handling procedures.

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Who benefits?

Citizens and businesses: These two groups stand to gain from SOLVIT thanks to the improvement of the problem-solving processes between national administrations. SOLVIT can tackle problems related to all Internal Market aspects, including the recognition of professional qualifications, market access for products and for services, social security rights, the free movement of capital, motor vehicle registration and the establishment of a business.

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The role of IDA(BC)

Both the technical development of the system and the end-user training within national administrations were financed under the IDA programme.

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Technical information

 

Project start date

2001

Project completion date

2002

Project status

Implementation

IDA budget

2002  €  350,000
2003  
€   30,000

Responsible service

DG Internal Market

Involved countries

All EU Member States and EFTA countries

Project coordinator

Nicholas Leapman

Contact

idabc@ec.europa.eu

Public website

http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/

News

http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/site/news/index_en.htm

Background documents

Communication COM(2001) 702 final, Effective Problem Solving in the Internal Market ('SOLVIT'), and annex

National SOLVIT centre

http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/site/centres/index_en.htm

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Documentation:


Documentary video clip - SOLVIT - EN, FR, DE, ES, ITPL


Global implementation plan and annual report
 SOLVIT GIP- March 2002 (PDF)
EnglishPDF[38 Kb]
 SOLVIT - Annual Report 2003 (PDF)
EnglishPDF[22 Kb]

Article
 SOLVIT - fast-acting relief from pain caused by Internal Market problems, by C. Hewitt -November 2003 (PDF)
EnglishPDF[11 Kb]

 

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