While supporting the pilot project to set up a financial expertise centre for consumers and end-users of financial services, the EESC feels it would be useful to call for a number of conditions to be met: legitimacy, financial independence, transparency and accountability, public visibility, as well as balance between financial sector professionals and users.
Consumers - Related Opinions
Defining the sharing economy makes it possible to distinguish between genuine practices requiring special arrangements and those that are wrongly classified merely to get around applicable regulations. New business models need to comply with the applicable national and EU legislation, so the Commission must urgently define a clear and transparent legal framework and publish without further delay the long overdue 'European agenda for the collaborative economy'. This agenda should provide a clear definition of the complementary role that self- and co-regulation must play in the sharing economy.
With this opinion the EESC takes the opportunity to comment on how the European market for retail financial services can be further opened up. The EESC welcomes that the Commission is on track and has an ambitious programme for implementing the Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union, also endorsing that consumers should be given the opportunity, whenever possible, to compare different products, so they can make an informed choice.
The EESC opinion will be dedicated to standalone investment agreements, with a particular emphasis on issues related to sustainable development and civil society involvement. It will contribute to the on-going discussion on the content and level of ambition of sustainable development chapters in the EU standalone investment agreements, as well as on civil society role in the course of negotiations and at the implementation stage.
The EESC welcomes the Commission communication and emphasises the growth potential of crowdfunding in the EU as an alternative source of funding. It also emphasises the dependence of SMEs on bank loans, a situation that will persist despite the existence of alternative sources which are not always easy to access. Therefore Crowdfunding should be explicitly recognised in the laws of the Member States as a new form of patronage.
Over-indebtedness has grown with the financial crisis, the rising cost of living and use of cash credit. However, it has not been properly addressed at EU level. The EESC wants that an appropriate uniform procedure is put in place including verification of claims, a European framework for usury or preventive measures.