Tag Archives: Consumers

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors' assets

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in civil matters

Enforcing judgments: the transparency of debtors’ assets

Even with a court judgment obtained, recovering cross-border debts may be difficult for creditors in practice if no information on the debtors’ assets or whereabouts is available. Because of this, the European Commission has adopted a Green Paper launching a public consultation on how to improve the recovery of debts through possible measures such as registers and debtor declarations.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 6 March 2008 on the effective enforcement of judgments in the European Union: the transparency of debtors’ assets [COM(2008) 128 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The late and non-payment of debts is detrimental to business and customers alike, particularly when no information is available on the debtor’s assets or whereabouts. This is a particular cross-border issue in debt recovery and has the potential to affect the smooth running of the internal market. In launching a public consultation, the European Commission has outlined the problems of the current situation and possible solutions in this Green Paper. Interested parties can submit their comments by 30 September 2008.

State of play

The search for a debtor’s address and information on his financial situation is often the starting point for enforcement proceedings. At national level, most Member States mainly use two different systems for obtaining information, either:

  • systems of declaration of the debtor’s entire assets or at least a part of it to satisfy the claim;
  • search systems with specific information (registers).

In this Green Paper, the European Commission focuses more on a series of measures instead of one single European measure to allow the creditor to obtain reliable information on the debtor’s assets and whereabouts within a reasonable period of time. Possible measures include:

  • drawing up a manual of national enforcement laws and practices: at present, there is very little information on the different enforcement systems in the 27 European Union Member States. Such a manual could contain all sources of information on a person’s assets, which could be accessed in each country; contact addresses, costs, etc.
  • increasing the information available and improving access to registers: the main sources of information on the debtor are public registers, such as commercial or population registers. However, these vary from one Member State to the next. The Commission is asking whether to increase information available in and access to commercial registers and in what way access to existing population registers should be enhanced. Furthermore, access to social security and tax registers by enforcement authorities may be increased, while respecting rules of data protection and social and fiscal privacy.
  • exchange of information between enforcement authorities: currently, enforcement bodies are not able to directly access the (non-public) registers of other Member States which are open to national enforcement bodies. In addition, there are no international instruments dealing with the exchange of information between national enforcement bodies. In the absence of a Europe-wide register, enhancing cooperation between national enforcement authorities and direct exchange of information between them may a possible solution.
  • measures relating to the debtor’s declaration: enforcement bodies have in several Member States the option to question the debtor directly regarding his assets, whereas in some Member States the debtor’s declaration is made in the form of a testimony before the enforcement court. In some Member States, the debtor has to fill out mandatory forms, and in others a debtor’s declaration does not exist at all. The European Commission is considering introducing a European Assets declaration, obliging the debtors to disclose all assets in the European judicial area. In this way, the transparency of the debtor’s assets would not be limited by the territoriality of the enforcement proceedings.

A single market for 21st century Europe

A single market for 21st century Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A single market for 21st century Europe


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Research and innovation > Research in support of other policies

A single market for 21st century Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 20 November 2007 entitled: “A single market for 21st century Europe” [COM(2007) 724 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The single market is beneficial for consumers and businesses. It has supported job creation and stimulated growth, competitiveness and innovation. The single market has also been essential for the smooth functioning of the economic and monetary policies of the European Union (EU). However, it still has untapped potential.


The Commission proposes a single market for the 21st century which is strong, innovative and competitive. Building on its existing strong foundations, the single market must concentrate on key areas with potential added value in order to face up to new challenges.

Consumers and businesses

The single market needs to deliver better results and benefits to respond to the expectations and concerns of consumers and businesses. The guarantee of high standards has enabled consumer protection to be ensured in terms of choice and quality of goods, prices, rights, fighting unfair commercial practices and abuse of dominant positions, etc. Nevertheless, the single market can offer more in key sectors of the daily life of consumers, such as energy or telecommunications, and sectors which are fragmented or typified by a lack of effective competition.

The safety and quality of goods and services and market surveillance also need to be strengthened. Food safety, pharmaceuticals and retail financial services are areas in which consumers must be educated and empowered in order to derive full benefit from the single market. In this respect, consumer rights, and especially contractual rights, and redress should be re-examined to move towards a simple, comprehensive protective framework.

In addition, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not integrated in the single market in the same way as large enterprises. Their participation is impeded mainly by tax fragmentation and language, cultural and consumer barriers. The initiative of the Small Business Act, based on the principle of “think small first”, and improvement of the tax environment should provide an appropriate response to this problem.

Coping with globalisation

In a constantly changing international context, the single market presents many advantages in terms of innovation, competitiveness and choice, whilst respecting labour, health, safety and environmental standards. Through its nature, it has attracted foreign investments and firms.

The EU must continue this process to cope with globalisation, concentrating on the pillars identified in the Communication “Global Europe competing in the world (BG) (CS) (ET) (GA) (LV) (LT) (HU) (MT) (PL) (RO) (SK) (SL)”, i.e.:

  • the trade and competition policy instruments which guarantee a competitive space by responding to foreign subsidies and other unfair practices;
  • promotion of cooperation on multilateral and bilateral norms. The EU must take inspiration from international standards and its own standards must serve as a world reference, ensuring it a leading role, especially if it speaks with one voice;
  • ensuring that the benefits of market openness reach European citizens, especially in terms of choice and price, but also by following up on trade agreements.

Making knowledge and innovation the “fifth freedom”

The single market, which was originally based on primary products and manufactured goods, has to provide for the greater integration of services, which are assuming a growing role in a knowledge-based economy. In this way, it must tap the potential offered by the new technologies for the benefit of a “fifth freedom”, i.e. free movement of knowledge and innovation.

The Services Directive is the lynchpin of this process. Nevertheless, the removal of barriers and strengthening of competition must be continued to offer more choice at lower prices to consumers and to boost innovation. Initiatives have been taken along these lines, especially with regard to the network industries (energy, postal services, transport, telecommunications, etc.). Information and communication technologies (ICT) are also an asset for the development of interoperable services in the context of the “e-Internal Market” (electronic invoicing, online public procurement and electronic customs), without creating new “e-barriers”.

The mobility of workers, researchers and students must be guaranteed to promote knowledge-sharing. The 7th Framework Research and Development Programme (7th FRDP) and the plan to introduce a “researcher passport” form the foundations of mobility and the development of research networks within the European Research Area (ERA).

Social and environmental dimension

Market opening has social and environmental impacts. The Commission will improve its impact assessments to anticipate market changes more effectively.

The development of the single market goes hand in hand with the European social agenda. Economic and social cohesion, based on the Structural Funds, allows citizens and businesses to be empowered and the benefits of the market to be spread to all regions of the EU. In this respect, the “European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation” (EGTC) offers new possibilities for cross-border cooperation in areas such as health, environment and infrastructures.

Workers’ mobility receives further support under the Job Mobility Action Plan. However, this must respect the fundamental rights of workers, including equal opportunities. The European Works Council will be adapted along these lines.

The development of “eco-industry” (pharmaceuticals or car manufacturing) contributes to the environmental dimension of the single market. Further investments are still needed, especially to contribute to fighting climate change.


An enlarged, diversified EU depends more than ever on the single market working well. The EU must concentrate on the evidence and the impact of the markets, giving priority to where markets do not deliver and where there are maximum chances of improvement. Market monitoring will be stepped up to determine the reasons for market failures and their potential on the basis of competition sector inquiries, lead markets and joint technology initiatives. The consumer scoreboard, which will be integrated into the Single Market Scoreboard from 2009, will provide additional information on the performances of these markets from the point of view of consumers and economic and social requirements.

Simple, appropriate tools will allow the single market to be more targeted and better enforced, without ending up with more regulations. Recourse to existing instruments and procedures under the various policies must be rationalised to achieve an optimum result. This also applies to the tools for the evaluation and implementation of Community legislation. The Commission will reconsider ineffective or superseded Community interventions.

All levels of governance, authorities and stakeholders must be involved on the basis of greater decentralisation, fostering ownership and mutual trust in the context of new working relationships and approaches. The networks, which could be based on “single market centres”, are essential in this respect to ensure enforcement of Community legislation and cooperation, promoting exchanges of experience and good practices.

Communication and access to information form the basis for transparency and knowledge of the Community rules. Member States are responsible for this. Achievement of these objectives will be based on the “single market ambassadors” pilot project (prominent persons in business and trade), a “one-stop shop” for the various services available to citizens and businesses (Europe Direct, Your Europe, SOLVIT, Citizens’ Signpost Service, EURES, the new integrated business support network, etc.), as well as a Single Market Scoreboard adapted to allow better evaluation of performance.

Energy Efficiency Plan 2011

Energy Efficiency Plan 2011

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Energy Efficiency Plan 2011


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Energy efficiency

Energy Efficiency Plan 2011

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 March 2011 – Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 [COM(2011) 109 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 forms part of the European Union’s (EU) 20 % target (aimed at reducing primary energy consumption) and the 2020 Energy strategy. It aims at:

  • promoting an economy that respects the planet’s resources;
  • implementing a low carbon system;
  • improving the EU’s energy independence;
  • strengthening security of energy supply.

In order to meet these objectives, the European Commission proposes to act at different levels.

Fostering low energy consumption in the construction sector

The Plan emphasises the necessity to implement the means for reducing final energy consumption in buildings, as this sector is responsible for almost 40 % of the final energy consumption in Europe. However, it highlights several obstacles such as “split incentives” which hinder improvements in the energy performance of buildings.

In order to effectively promote low energy consumption in the construction sector, the training of architects, engineers and technicians should be adapted, for example under the “Agenda for new skills and jobs”.

The Plan also states that Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) may give financial assistance to public authorities to modernise buildings and thus reduce their energy consumption.

Developing competitive European industry

The Commission wishes to encourage new production capacity and infrastructures to replace old equipment. These new infrastructures must comply with the requirements of the Directive on the emission allowance trading scheme and the Directive on industrial emissions.

It is also crucial to introduce a scheme for the effective recovery of heat losses from electricity and industrial production, and to valorise cogeneration.

The Commission also proposes to create instruments which allow financial value to be attributed to energy savings and link profits of utilities (suppliers and distributors) to energy efficiency and not to the volume of energy delivered.

Lastly, the Plan provides for increased energy efficiency in industry, particularly in European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Regular energy audits should become mandatory.

Adapting national and European financing

In order to promote energy efficiency, the European Commission proposes to intensify energy taxation and carbon taxes by means of the following instruments:

  • the cohesion policy;
  • the Intelligent Energy Europe programme (2007-2013);
  • intermediated funding;
  • the European Energy Programme for Recovery;
  • the Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013).

Making savings for the consumer

Initially, the Commission proposes to reinforce the approach of the “Ecodesign” Directive and to define strict standards for heating boilers, water heaters and computers for example.

Furthermore, consumers’ understanding of the Ecolabel should be improved in order to facilitate the choice of energy-efficient products. Consumers should also have information about their own energy consumption in real time by means of “intelligent” individual meters, as recommended in the Directive establishing the internal market in electricity.

Improving transport efficiency

The transport sector represents 32 % of final energy consumption. The Commission intends to define a strategy to improve the efficiency of this sector, for example by introducing traffic management in all modes of transport.

Widening the scope of the national framework

Member States have implemented national plans to meet the target of reducing EU primary energy consumption by 20 %. However, the Commission suggests widening the scope of these plans to cover all stages of the energy chain and better exploit potential energy savings.


In November 2008, the Commission published the Communication “Energy efficiency: delivering the 20 % target” recommending a reduction of 20 %, by 2020, of primary energy consumption. It transpired that this target would be difficult to achieve if the EU did not exploit the considerable potential of energy savings in sectors such as buildings and transport. This Plan therefore proposes new overarching guidelines for energy efficiency taking account of current parameters.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.