EU commissioner questions financial services borders

EU commissioner questions financial services borders

The European Commissioner responsible for financial services has said he wants all consumers to be able to shop across Europe for the product that is right for them.

Lord Hill made the comments in a speech to the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue in Brussels, adding it makes no sense for providers to only offer their services to consumers in the country where they are based.

“Only 3 per cent of consumers have used bank services in another EU member state. Life insurance costs, fees for credit cards, mortgage rates and car insurance premiums vary drastically between countries.

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“Some of this can be explained by different risks, legal frameworks and costs. But the extent to which services and products remain confined by national boundaries makes no sense in an era of digitalisation.”

He commented that mobile and internet banking is completely changing the way that people interact with banks, stating that he wants to make the most of these changes.

“We also want to tackle the problems consumers are faced with when they move abroad to work, or for retirement,” Lord Hill added.

“In a single market, products that are central to people’s financial security – like life or private health insurance – need to be portable. In other words, you should be able to take them with you when you move.”

In December the European Commission published a Green Paper on creating a stronger European market for consumer financial services which asked whether, and how, products could be sold in multiple member states.

It suggested that financial advisers could have a role to play in increasing consumer awareness of cross-border products, noting difficulties for consumers shopping in other EU member states due to a lack of access to information.

The consultation on these issues will run until 18 March.

The European Commission has said it wants the building blocks of a Capital Markets Union to be in place by 2019.