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18 Apr, 2014

European Parliament Acts to Aid Cross-Border Debt Collection; SMEs seen as main beneficiaries

Strasbourg, 15 April 2014, European Commission MEMO – Today, the European Parliament voted in plenary to back an initiative by the European Commission that will cut red tape for companies and contribute to growth in the EU. The European Account Preservation Order (IP/11/923) (backed by 597 votes for, 33 against and 37 abstentions) will help businesses recover millions of euros that are currently lost each year in cross-border debts.

“Today’s votes send one clear message: Europe is simplifying procedures for companies and helping them save time and money. Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of European economies – having an easy procedure in place for businesses to quickly recover outstanding debts across borders is crucial,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner.

The European Parliament today endorsed the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Account Preservation Order (IP/11/923). The proposal will help ensure that businesses recover millions of euros in cross-border debts by allowing creditors to preserve the amount owed in a debtor’s bank account.

Around 1 million small businesses struggle to recover cross-border debts in the EU’s Single Market. This equates to up to €600 million lost every year in debts that are unnecessarily written off. For small businesses it is often too difficult and expensive to pursue complex lawsuits in foreign countries. With the European Account Preservation Order debtors will be prevented from removing or dissipating their assets while procedures to obtain and enforce a judgment are ongoing. The Preservation Order will be effective Europe-wide and will greatly improve the prospects of successfully recovering cross-border debt.

Next steps: The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted to back the Commission’s proposal (MEMO/13/481) on 30 May 2013. Ministers endorsed the proposal in the Justice Council in March (MEMO/14/155). Following today’s European Parliament vote in plenary, to become law, the Commission’s proposal must now be adopted by Member States in the Council (voting by qualified majority), which is expected to happen in June.