|Vol.7, No.35, 27.9.01, p15
Firms using the internet to sell financial services across the EU are set to stay trapped in a legal vacuum after member states failed to resolve a row over the right to keep their own consumer protection rules.
Ministers at today's single market council in Brussels were expected to rubber stamp a deal setting up pan-EU rules to boost the market for services sold over the internet, as well as the more tried-and-tested mail, telephone and fax methods.
But instead diplomats said the proposals unveiled by the Commission three years ago are set to remain mothballed although ministers were still expected to debate the issue today (27 September).
"There was an attempt by the Belgian presidency to solve the outstanding questions - but it is still blocked," said one diplomat involved in the negotiations. France, Spain, Italy and Portugal are pressing for the right to apply their own rules governing the sector for a two-year transition period after the directive is adopted.
At the same time, he said, member states were "still arguing" over the scope for setting their own rules for 'pre-contractual information' that firms must give would-be clients.
Financial services are not the only dossier where ministers were expected to draw a blank at today's meeting. Diplomats said the presidency had also failed to bridge divides over proposals for a European patent - eagerly awaited by EU industry and heralded at last year's Lisbon summit as a driver of European growth and innovation.
Governments remain split over issues such as the language that patents would be written in, the role of a central EU tribunal to sort out disputes and the role of existing national patent offices.
Firms using the Internet to sell financial services across the EU are set to stay trapped in a legal vacuum after Member States failed to resolve a row over the right to keep their own consumer protection rules.
|Business and Industry, Internal Markets