To improve debt recovery throughout the EU and thus encourage trade between Member States, MEPs called on the Commission on Tuesday to bring forward swiftly new laws on the freezing and disclosure of debtors' assets.
Arlene McCarthy (S&D, UK), the MEP leading Parliament's work on this issue, said "Europe's single market gives citizens the right to live, work or do business anywhere in the European Union. Alongside this we must ensure they have the right to justice if they face fraud, theft or non-payment when making use of this market. We have passed laws to ensure court judgements can be enforced across Europe but without a simple way for victims to have stolen assets disclosed and frozen it is still too easy for fraudulent traders to hide their ill-gotten gains. Parliament has today called for quick and effective freezing and disclosure orders to be made available for citizens and I urge the Commission to act on this call swiftly."
Given that the "current level of successful cross-border debt recovery is remarkably low" and that the cost of cross-border debt recovery can be "prohibitive", MEPs argue that "the time has come to simplify and speed up this recovery process". Parliament therefore asks the Commission to come up with two draft EU regulations: one for a European Order for the Preservation of Assets and the other for a European Order on the Disclosure of Assets. MEPs also suggest in some detail what shape this legislation should take.
The regulations should state which national courts have the right to issue such orders, say MEPs. A simple standard multilingual form should exist for requesting such orders and should be available through the European e-Justice portal. In addition, a set of safeguards for debtors should be provided. The European Order for the Preservation of Assets should be obtainable without initial notice being served on the debtor and the cost of using it should be kept to a minimum.
The resolution was adopted by a show of hands.
The European Commission has already informed Parliament that it plans to put forward a draft law on the freezing of debtors' assets by July 2011. Draft legislation on the transparency of debtors' assets is planned for 2013.
Procedure: non-legislative resolution