The Future of Credit and Retail Financial Services in the EU

The ECRI Task Force (TF) aims to help pave the way in setting the 2014-19 European Commission’s agenda for retail financial services, in particular consumer credit. The objective is for TF to represent all stakeholders, including policy-makers, experts, industry and consumer representatives.

Its goal is to identify the most relevant areas and concrete issues and present them in a comprehensible way, including specific recommendations in a Task Force Report (TFR) to be published during the first months of the new European Commission (beginning of 2015).

The aim is to evaluate the possibility of finding an appropriate balance between a revival of consumer credit, which could allow the economic recovery to shift up a gear and efficient consumer protection. On one hand, the impact of consumer credit (including revolving credit which represents a very specific case of payment) on GDP growth will be assessed. On the other hand, the key questions of consumer protection will be approached with new ideas. The general idea will be finally to find a way to reconcile the macroeconomic side of regulation (monetary policies, etc) with the microecomic side.

Further analyses will try to determine what are the best tools to achieve the appropriate balance. Firstly, the current degree of consumer credit market integration in the EU will be studied and the aim will be to assess the added value that further integration might (or might not) achieve, against the background of increased wholesale market integration. The TF would also consider whether further attempts to harmonise EU credit law would have positive or counterproductive effects.The ECRI TF Members will have the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue on the Task Force agenda.

Secondly, the TF will analyse the prospects offered by the digital evolution, whose related regulations should be necessary at EU level and how this regulation could help foster the balance between dynamic consumer credit markets and efficient consumer protection.

Finally, the focus will be on the impact of the integration of new technologies (crowd-funding, telecoms, new payments discussion, etc) and new actors into the business plan of consumer credit actors.

Given that consumer credit markets contain very diversified retail products, are relatively flexible and volatile and trigger a significant proportion of the over-indebted households, all the reflexions developed during this TF could provide food for thought for other retail segments.

Description

The ECRI Task Force’s main objective would be to engage the ECRI constituency in the crucial EU policy thinking on retail financial services, especially on consumer credit. The Task Force would seek to identify, comment on and feed in the highest quality data from all relevant sources into the policy processes of the Commission, the Parliament and the regulatory authorities of member states.

In organisational and practical terms, the ECRI Task Force will be based on three or four full­day multi­stakeholder workshops designed to create an open and informal but structured dialogue on regulatory priorities for the EU retail credit markets to be set by the new Commission.

Task Force Stakeholders

The Task Force will constitute a unique forum of representatives from the European Commission (DGs: Markt, Sanco, Connect), Members and administrators of the European Parliament, officials from member states, representatives of financial services regulators, consumer representatives, business and industry (i.e. banks, consumer credit companies, credit registers and credit management service companies), NGOs and other stakeholders in order to facilitate an in‐depth discussion and provide background research.

At the end of the Task Force, ECRI will publish and circulate among EU and member state policy circles an authoritative analysis including policy recommendations together with an ECRI Task Force Report, which will also be officially published in the CEPS Task Force Report publication series and relevant international publication schemes. This report will be based on discussions in the meetings supplemented by research carried out by the rapporteur.

Meetings

1st: 12 May 2014 (Agenda)
2nd: 29 September 2014 (Agenda)
3rd: 28 January 2015 (Agenda)
4th: 7 Avril 2015

Elaboration of the Task Force Report
In the period between the third and the fourth Task Force meetings, a report of the Task Force will be circulated among the members who will be given ample time to express themselves about the main points so that the larger part of the input is determined before the last meeting.

First quarter 2015: 4th (and final) Task Force Meeting
The ECRI Task Force draft report, which will be finalised after the last meeting followed by adoption through written procedure, will be open for discussion and comments to all participants. ECRI will also table a set of key messages and recommendations, which will be agreed upon by all participants and will then serve as the main tool for communicating the results of the Task Force to policy‐makers. Additional time will be given to the stakeholders to express their views on the Task Force report, and the report will be published before the end of Q1 2015.

Second quarter 2015: TF Report Launch Event
ECRI would organise a prominent event with +100 participants, including non-members of the TF (a larger scope of organisations and of policy-makers as well as journalists) for the launch of the report and high-level participation from European institutions.

Participation

This ECRI Task Force is principally designed for ECRI members, but participation will open to non‐members as well, at a fee. The fee covers participation in all workshops, documentation, lunches and three copies of all reports produced. Upon request, CEPS will mail additional copies of the final report to persons identified by participants. 

 For more information, contact info@ecri.eu