European Parliament back new rules on consumer loans

Consumers across Europe look set to be able to make better informed choices when they take out consumer credit loans - paying for holidays, weddings or a new car - following a decision in the European Parliament on Wednesday 16 January 2008. The proposed EU Directive on Consumer Credit Loans aims to break open the €800 billion EU consumer loans market which remains largely fragmented into national markets denying consumers choice and more competitive prices. The new rules will make the market more transparent for consumers and business competitors. The main effect will be to provide standard, comparable information to customers across the EU taking out a credit loan. Under the new rules, consumers will be assured access to key facts and figures in advertisements. For credit offers, the information given to consumers (e.g interest rates, amount, number and frequency of payments, the obligation to take out an insurance or the charges for defaulting) must be set out in a new comparable EU-wide European Credit Information Form. And there will be a new single EU-wide method for calculating the Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APR) so consumers can see the real cost of credit. The proposed directive also sets common standards on a right of withdrawal so consumers can change their mind. This Consumer Credit Directive is part of a bigger drive to boost the cross border market in retail financial services as set out in the recently published Green Paper on Retail Financial Services.

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EC adopts 35 European Cohesion policy programmes 2007-2013

The Commissioner for Regional Policy, Danuta Hübner, announced on the 21st December 2007 the adoption of 35 programmes this month under the "European territorial cooperation" objective of Cohesion policy. These programmes, mainly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), provide support for cross-border and transnational cooperation among the Member States. Turkey, the Western Balkans countries, Norway, Switzerland, Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation also take part in some of these programmes with the support of the new Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

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Commission to recover 256.3 meuros of CAP expenditure from MS

A total of € 256.3 million of EU farm money unduly spent by Member States will be claimed back as a result of a decision adopted today by the European Commission. The money returns to the Community budget because of inadequate control procedures or non-compliance with EU rules on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds.

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EC encourages financial education for EU citizens

The European Commission has adopted a Communication on Financial Education. The Commission stresses the importance of increasing the ability of Europe's citizens to understand and engage with financial products and services. Enhancing financial education has substantial benefits for consumers, the economy and society. The Commission sets out some basic principles to guide financial educators; and announces some practical initiatives.

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First time shareholders scheme from the United Kingdom

The State aid which the United Kingdom has implemented on the basis of the First time shareholder scheme (the scheme) is compatible with the common market as far as it concerns aid granted for the first time acquisition of a share in a new fishing vessel.

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