Reporting period: 01/2018 – 12/2018
SOLVIT is a service provided by the national administrations. There is a SOLVIT centre in each EU country and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. They work together via an online database.
SOLVIT helps people and businesses who encounter difficulties in another country when public authorities do not apply EU legislation correctly.
It is a faster, informal alternative to filing a court case, submitting a formal complaint to the Commission or putting forward a petition.
|||Home centre sending an initial reply within the 7-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55–75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Home centre submitting case to lead centre within 30-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55–75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Home centre accepting a proposed solution within 7-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55–75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Lead centre accepting a case within 7-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55–75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Lead centre handling a case within 10-week target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55–75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Lead centre resolution rate:||≥ 90%||70–90%||< 70%|
A country’s overall performance is calculated by assigning the following values to each of its 4 indicators:
- Red = -1 ,
- Yellow = 0 ,
- Green = +1
Definitive colours are assigned based on the sum of these scores:
- 3 or higher ,
- -2 to 2 ,
- -2 or lower .
* countries with less than 10 cases
Iceland and Liechtenstein were not assessed as Liechtensteinno had no cases and Iceland only one.
How does SOLVIT work?
People and businesses who encounter a problem exercising their rights seek help at their home centre (usually in their home country).
The home centre prepares the case and sends it to the SOLVIT centre in the country where the problem occurred (the lead centre), which deals with the authority in question.
Initial contact with applicants needs to be made promptly. This allows time to explain SOLVIT's role to applicants and for any possible issues to be checked. Additional action is still required from France, Germany and Finland.
Preparation time is satisfactory. Additional action is still required from Poland, Czechia and Romania.
The performance of the SOLVIT centres is satisfactory. Centres in Greece, Poland and Italy need to improve.
The performance of the SOLVIT centres is satisfactory. Centres in France, Finland, the Netherlands and Italy need to improve.
Average number of days taken: 82 (63 previously). Centres in Greece, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, Czechia, Poland, France and Austria should take steps to deal with cases more quickly. A major reason for cases taking longer to handle is the lack of sufficient and stable resources, at a time when demands are increasing.
Over 10 weeks: 37% of cases (29% previously).
Over 20 weeks (twice the target time): 18% of cases (11% previously).
Although 71% of the cases that took longer than 20 weeks were ultimately solved (63% previously), this figure is not acceptable – a key aim of SOLVIT is to provide help promptly.
Factors affecting resolution speed:
- cooperation with national administrations
- case complexity
- number and continuity of staff (many centres are understaffed, have other tasks in addition to SOLVIT-related work or members rotate frequently).
In 2018, the resolution rate was 90% (87% in 2017).
Countries below 70%: Finland and Luxembourg.
In these countries, the low resolution rate is not significant as they have a very small number of cases (Finland 4 and Luxembourg 8).
- In 2018 SOLVIT helped more than 4,800 people by resolving their problems, clarifying the issue(s) or directing them towards another service.
- SOLVIT received 302 cases last year from the network partners compared to 372 in 2017, mostly from Your Europe Advice (YEA) (223 cases in 2018) and the Europe Direct Contact Centre (EDCC) (74 cases in 2018).
- SOLVIT handled more cases where the problem occured due to a written national rule and reduced their time in handling cases.
- 2 dedicated training courses on free movement of goods to improve the knowledge and legal capacity of SOLVIT centres to deal with these cases.
- Although still low in comparison to cases brought by individuals, business cases increased by 50%.
Facts and Figures
- SOLVIT handled in total 2,295 cases that fell within its remit.
- 52% (1192) of all cases were submitted online, 10% (223) were transferred by YEA and 3% (74) were transferred by the EDCC. The rest were submitted via other means (e-mail, phone, post, in person).
In 2018 SOLVIT also received an additional 2,600 complaints that were not within its remit (the figure for 2017 was 2 100). The proportion of these cases out of SOLVIT's overall remit was 52% in 2018 compared to 50% in 2017 and 52% in 2016. In these cases, SOLVIT helped complainants by explaining their EU rights in more detail or by finding another means of redress.
Net recipients of cases: Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Austria, and Malta
Net submitters of cases: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Czechia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Spain, UK, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia and Finland
Biggest submitters: Bulgaria, Hungary, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Romania, Poland and Italy
There was a sharp decrease in the number of cases submitted by SOLVIT HU and SOLVIT PL. This was due to reductions in the delays on decisions on family benefits in Germany after this issue had been highlighted by SOLVIT in recent years.
Biggest receivers: As in 2017, most cases were sent to Germany, France, UK, Italy, Ireland and Spain
Social security-related cases made up 59% of all cases in 2018 (62% in 2016 and 54% in 2017).
- Social security remains the biggest problem area dealt with by SOLVIT (1,344 in 2018 compared to 1,132 cases in 2017)
- Cases on the right of entry and residence of EU citizens and their family members dropped by 10% compared to 2017 (481 compared to 538 cases in 2017)
- More cases on vehicles and driving licences (44%, 97 compared to 67 cases in 2017)
- More cases on taxation (68 cases compared to 39 in 2017).
The proportion of citizen to business cases in SOLVIT remains high. In 2018, SOLVIT received 115 business cases, 39 more than 2017. The highest increase was in Sweden (+7) and Belgium (+6).
Biggest contributors to business cases: Sweden, UK, Germany, Belgium and France.
- 70% of the business cases were solved.
SOLVIT has stepped up its efforts to attract business cases:
- 2 advanced legal training courses for national SOLVIT centres on free movement of goods took place under the COSME 2018 programme in cooperation with the VUB University in Brussels, Belgium.
- SOLVIT is part of a problem-solving mechanism included in the review of enforcement of the mutual recognition principle adopted in March 2019
- Business intermediary organisations have registered and can now submit and follow their cases directly in SOLVIT
- A business leaflet was produced and distributed
- Cooperation with the Enterprise Europe Network continues but needs to be strengthened.
The 3 main problem areas continued to be:
- taxation (31 cases)
- free movement of goods (21 cases)
- free movement of services (21 cases)
- free movement of workers (20 cases)
- Most cases came from small businesses
- Cases handled: 121 cases (95 in 2017)
- Main areas: free movement of persons (70),social security (15), vehicles and driving licences (8), recognition of professional qualifications (7), free movement of cervices (6) and free movements of goods (5).
Cases linked to more general difficulties in the single market by problem area and by Member State
|Free movement of persons and right to reside||1||3||3||5||28||1||1||23||3||2||70|
|Vehicles and driving licences||4||1||1||1||1||8|
|Recognition of professional qualifications||4||3||7|
|Free movement for services||1||2||1||2||6|
|Free movement of goods||2||1||1||1||5|
|Access to education||1||1||1||3|
|Free movement of workers||1||2||3|
|Taxation and customs||1||1||2|
|Free movement of capitals and financial services||1||1|
- Cases closed within 10 weeks: 75%
- Longest handling time: 503 days
- Most cases (lead centre): Ireland (31) and Sweden (30) handled most cases of this type followed by Germany (9), Spain (8) and Belgium (7)
Examples of difficulties relating to the single market in SOLVIT (as reported in the SOLVIT database):
EU citizens trying to get their professional qualifications recognised in another country met with:
- problems in getting professional qualifications recognised in the crafts sector in Ireland
- delays in getting professional qualifications recognised in France.
Cross border goods and services providers expereinced the following:
- unjustified technical requirements (removal of EU certified tow bar, steering wheels) for passenger cars in Spain
- individual approval for mechanical coupling devices in France
- ban of type approved transport equipment for cars in Germany
- requirements to market products in Czechia allegedly incompatible with the mutual recognition principle.
Problems with taxation:
- the disproportionate procedure to obtain a refund for coffee tax imposed upon a cargo in transit in Germany
- discriminatory capital gains tax for non-residents in Portugal.
EU citizens faced the following social security issues when moving cross border:
- unjustified reduction or refusal of family benefits in Austria due to different classification of the benefits when the children live in another country
- only national diplomas are recognised for the service credit of diplomas which generates a higher pension amount and gives access to an early pension scheme in Belgium
- social security contributions to rental income for non-residents in France.
Problems with entry and residence rights:
- delays in issuing residence cards to non-EU family members of EU citizens in Norway and Sweden
- residence cards to non-EU family members of EU citizens are not considered in Belgium within the required 6 months,
- difficulties for EU citizens to get listed in the population register and obtain a personal identification number (PIN) which is necessary to get access to certain essential public and private services in Sweden
- delays in issuing entry visas to non-EU family members of EU citizens in Ireland
- unjustified conditions and refusals for short-term visas for non-EU family members of EU citizens in Ireland, Slovenia and Sweden
- denial to immediately issue a registration certificate for EU citizens in Belgium
- validity of residence card limited to expected UK membership in Germany
- Article 3 (2) of Directive 2004/38 on extended and other family members has not been transposed in Poland.
Issues of discrimination
- free admission to certain museums and monuments in Portugal is granted only to residents and not to other EU citizens
- refusal to allow more than 2 first names on documents based on the Personal Name Act in Slovenia
- condition of residency or close ties with Sweden to hunt in certain periods
- only Greek nationality can work in managerial positions in the public sector in Greece
- refusal to recognise non-national ID cards for certification purposes in Sweden
- only foreign residents are unsubscribed from the local population registry if their continued residence cannot be verified every 5 years in Spain
- discrimination in access to digital procedures for non-national doctors in Portugal.
Staffing level in SOLVIT centres
The chart below shows current staffing levels (i.e. staff time spent on SOLVIT work) in relation to caseload.
The number of staff (FTEs or full-time equivalents) should be determined by the caseload of the SOLVIT centres:
small SOLVIT centres (16–50 cases) → 1 FTE
medium SOLVIT centres (51–150 cases) → 2 FTEs
large SOLVIT centres (151–300 cases) → 3 FTEs
very large SOLVIT centres (over 300 cases) → 3.5 FTEs
- Demands for handling cases are rising – but staff numbers are static or even decreasing. In many cases, staff may be unable to cope with any further caseload increases. Some centres also seem to experience difficulties with communicating promptly (replying to e-mails, telephone calls, etc.).
- High turnover in some centres makes business continuity and efficient case handling more difficult.
- Many SOLVIT centres often have to give priority to other tasks for their national administrations, leaving insufficient time for SOLVIT duties.
- Make sure SOLVIT centres are adequately staffed
- Enable them to SOLVIT work
- Ensure the continuity and expertise of staff
- Ensure that national SOLVIT centres have sufficient authority within their national administration
- Follow up of more general difficulties in the single market detected through SOLVIT
- Focus on the quality of case handling
- Ensure a maximum number of cases reach SOLVIT, especially from businesses
- Liaise with counterparts in the Europe Entreprise Network
- Meet the recommended target times and keep applicants informed on progress
- Ensure support and recognition of SOLVIT within the national administration by organising network meetings
- Ensure that issues linked to breaches of EU law detected through SOLVIT are channelled to the responsible services in the country concerned
- Ensure SOLVIT centres have access to legal expertise on business problem areas Signal specific problems in handling business cases to the Commission
- Link organisations to SOLVIT by making them SOLVIT partners
- Make more structured and systematic use of the available data and evidence from SOLVIT in enforcement and formulation of new policy
- Revise existing workflows in the database for a more efficient case-handling
- Continue efforts inside the Commission and other institutions to increase awareness and use of SOLVIT for the signposting of individual complaints
- Reach out to business – mainly via the Your Europe Business portal, EU-level business organisations, networks like the Europe Entreprise Network and national contact points on goods/services.
- Develop further training in business areas and arrange networking sessions for staff in SOLVIT centres.
- Implement the problem solving procedure as set ou in the revision of the Mutual Recognition Regulation that will be based on SOLVIT.
Examples of problems solved
SOLVIT helped to remove the following barriers to the free movement of people, goods and services in the EU:
- In Belgium the condition that driving licences could only be exchanged when they were about to expire has been removed. EU residents in Belgium can now exchange driving licences at any moment.
- French authorities have now agreed that sickness-related reimbursements can be made to foreign bank accounts.
- In Ireland foreign bank accounts can now be used to top up a prepaid transport card.
- The Bulgarian law denying registration of tractors with EU certificates was brought into line with EU law.
- Austria and Romania paid overdue VAT reimbursements to EU companies not established there.
- In Portugal, the process to provide attestation certificates for level of qualifications for physiotherapists was reinstated.
- Spain recognised all working periods within the EU to determine the seniority level of a nurse.
- A Romanian citizen working in France was granted tax deductions for family members.
- A double fee is no longer required for those EU nationals seeking certification in the Croatian language as a skipper.
- Swedish social security authorities conformed to EU law and covered hospital expenses of €25,000 for a Portuguese national who gave birth to a premature baby.