What is SOLVIT?
SOLVIT is an on-line problem solving network in which EU Member States work together to solve without legal proceedings problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities. There is a SOLVIT centre in every European Union Member State (as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). SOLVIT Centres can help with handling complaints from both citizens and businesses. They are part of the national administration and are committed to providing real solutions to problems within ten weeks. Using SOLVIT is free of charge.
SOLVIT has been working since July 2002. The European Commission coordinates the network, which is operated by the Member States, the European Commission provides the database facilities and, when needed, helps to speed up the resolution of problems. The Commission also passes formal complaints it receives on to SOLVIT if there is a good chance that the problem can be solved without legal action.
The Internal Market offers citizens and businesses many opportunities. You may want to move to another country in the European Union, to study, to work, to follow your partner or to enjoy life after retirement. Or you may want to set up a business or sell your products or services in another EU Member State
While the Internal Market generally works well, mistakes are sometimes made. For example, you might have problems with getting a residence permit, getting your professional qualifications recognised or registering a car. Your employment, social security or tax rights might be denied. You might have trouble getting the right to vote in European and local elections in the Member State to which you have moved. Your business could be faced with administrative obstacles, unjustified refusal of access to a national market or problems in getting reimbursement of VAT.
Sometimes these problems arise because of a lack of information about your rights in Europe and about how procedures work in other EU Member States. In such cases, the Your Europe portal on the Europa website can help to clarify matters.
But if you are already well informed about your internal market rights and have tried in vain to exercise them in another EU country, SOLVIT is there to help you.
How does SOLVIT work?
When you submit a case to SOLVIT, your local SOLVIT Centre (known as the "Home" SOLVIT Centre) will first check the details of your application to make sure that it does indeed concern the misapplication of Internal Market rules and that all the necessary information has been made available. It will then enter your case into an on-line database, and it will be forwarded automatically to the SOLVIT Centre in the other Member State where the problem has occurred (known as the "Lead" SOLVIT Centre).
The Lead SOLVIT Centre should confirm within a week whether or not it will take on your case. This will largely depend on whether it considers that the case is well-founded and whether there is a good chance that it can be resolved pragmatically. If the solution to a problem requires the repeal of a national rule – rather than simply applying it correctly – this sometimes requires formal legal action, though SOLVIT can sometimes help persuade a member State to waive the offending rule pending its abolition.
The target deadline for finding a solution to the problem is 10 weeks.
The two SOLVIT Centres will work together to try to solve the problem and your Home SOLVIT Centre will keep you informed of progress.
SOLVIT an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. It works much more quickly than making a formal complaint. You do not have to accept the proposed solution but you cannot challenge it formally through SOLVIT. Nevertheless, if a problem goes unresolved, or you consider that the proposed solution is unacceptable, you can still pursue legal action through a national court or lodge a formal complaint with the European Commission.
Where SOLVIT can help
SOLVIT deals with cross-border problems between a business or a citizen on the one hand and a national public authority on the other, where there is possible misapplication of EU law. The policy areas SOLVIT has mostly dealt with so far are:
- Recognition of Professional qualifications and diplomas
- Access to education
- Residence permits
- Voting rights
- Social security
- Employment rights
- Driving licences
- Motor vehicle registration
- Border controls
- Market access for products
- Market access for services
- Establishment as self-employed
- Public procurement
- Free movement of capital or payments
This is not an exhaustive list. SOLVIT will consider any case that meets the criteria above.
However, since SOLVIT is an informal approach to problem solving it should not be used in situations where legal proceedings are already underway.
SOLVIT Quality and Performance standards
SOLVIT is committed to offering a first-class service. SOLVIT centres have, therefore, agreed to meet some quality and performance standards for problem solving.
On the basis of the standards, you can expect that:
- You can reach your local SOLVIT Centre by telephone, fax or e-mail during office hours and you will get a prompt reply to your queries.
- If your problem appears to be suitable for SOLVIT, the SOLVIT Centre will analyse it and will let you know as soon as possible whether it can be submitted to SOLVIT.
- When a case is submitted to the SOLVIT on-line database, you will receive a short record of it from the SOLVIT Centre.
- If the SOLVIT Centre of the country where the problem has occurred agrees to try and solve your problem, the deadline for a solution is ten weeks.
- If a solution is found, you will be advised on what you need to do to benefit from the proposed solution.
- If your case cannot be solved by the network, the local SOLVIT Centre will try to help you find another way to deal with your problem.
Please let us know whether the service you have received from SOLVIT fulfilled these standards.