The European Commission (the Commission) has published a Green Paper on retail financial services.
The Green Paper looks at the retail market across Europe for products such as insurance, mortgages, loans, payments and bank accounts and seeks to identify the specific barriers that consumers and firms face in making full use of the Single Market and ways in which those barriers could be overcome, including by making best use of new technology, subject to appropriate safeguards. The Commission’s goal is to make it easier for:
- companies based in one Member State to offer retail financial services in other Member States;
- consumers to be able to buy retail financial services offered in other Member States; and
- citizens to take their financial service products with them if they move from one Member State to another, whether to study, work or retire.
The Green Paper also considers the impact of digital technology on the retail market. The Commission notes that digital services such as online banking, peer-to-peer lending or price comparison websites present many opportunities for providers and consumers, but can also pose a regulatory and consumer-protection challenge.
The deadline for comments on the Green Paper is 18 March 2016. The Commission will organise a conference in early 2016 to examine the evidence gathered and discuss the priority areas mentioned in the Green Paper. The Commission expects to publish an Action Plan on Retail Financial Services to follow up the Green Paper around summer 2016.