In the absence of any Community guidance in this area, the various Member States have developed their own national legal systems for preventing individuals and families from falling into over-indebtedness, processing the cases of those who do, helping them get out of debt and providing them with support.
The opinion suggests that a European Indebtedness Observatory should be set up to monitor developments in the phenomenon at European level, providing a forum for dialogue between all the parties concerned, and proposing and coordinating measures to prevent and limit it, then assessing the impact thereof.
The Committee is aware, however, that coordinating steps of this nature and scope can only be achieved if the Commission, European Parliament and Council – in close dialogue with organised civil society, representing the bulk of those concerned by the issue (families, workers, consumers, financial institutions, etc.) – decide to make this a priority for action.
It is strongly recommended that the necessary follow-up be given in terms of basic research, consultations and legislative and other relevant proposals, starting with the publication of a Green Paper defining and identifying the terms of the issue and giving a voice to all the parties concerned, by means of extensive public consultation.
The EESC calls on the European Parliament and the Council to take on board the major concerns that this opinion attempts to address on behalf of civil society and make them a priority in their respective political agendas.