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OVERINDEBTEDNESS prevention - Statement: Council of Europe 2005
The Council of Europe (Strasbourg) which regroups nearly all European States has expressed its interest in the Brussels Conference on Responsible Credit which basically follows its 2005 Helsinki resolution which mandates the member states to take action and "10. AGREE on the importance to take measures to seek legal and practical solutions to debt problems encountered by citizens in a credit society;"
The resolution and the letter are annexed.

In a letter to the organisers the department of public and private law of the administration of the Council of Europe wrote:

"This Conference in general and some of its topics in particular are of great interest to the Council of Europe at present. At their 26th Conference in Helsinki on the European Ministers of Justice adopted a Resolution on Seeking Legal Solutions to Debt Problems (attached), which sets forth measures that need to be taken in order to provide solutions to overcome the problem of overindebtedness in the Council of Europe member states.

As a follow-up to this Resolution a Group of Specialists has been created with the task to fulfill, during the year 2006, the goals determined by its terms of reference. This Group is composed of five members from different Coucnil of Europe member states (Belgium, France, Finland, Netherlands and Moldova) taking into account professional, geographical and gender representation and will have its first meeting in Strasbourg most probably on 17-19 May 2006 (two experts' confirmation remaining to be received as regards the dates)."

The statement reads as follows



Seeking Legal Solutions to Debt Problems in a Credit Society

THE MINISTERS participating in the 26th Conference of European Ministers of Justice (Helsinki, 7 and 8 April 2005);

1. Having examined the Report of the Minister of Justice of Finland on seeking legal solutions to debt problems in a credit society as well as the contributions made by a number of delegations;

2. Underlining that a sufficient consumer credit market and effective lending promotes economic growth and that it is important to strike a balance between the interests of the
debtor and the creditor in a credit relationship;

3. Concerned about the problems arising in today’s credit society due inter alia to the easy access to credit that can in some cases result in the over-indebtedness of households creating
social exclusion of individuals and their families;

4. Underlining the importance of preventing problems arising from over-indebtedness and, where necessary, seeking solutions to enhance the proper prevention and management of
debt problems, as well as the sense of responsibility of creditors and the individual debtors;

5. Convinced that the Council of Europe has an important role to play in this context, and a responsibility to assist all member states to find alternative solutions to avoid overindebtedness
through various means such as financial advice and education, as well as
management of debt;

6. Being aware of the various legal means, institutions and good-practices that already exist in certain Council of Europe member states, aiming at avoiding over-indebtedness and
providing alternative means of dispute resolution, and of debt enforcement measures;

7. Bearing in mind the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of
Personal Data (ETS No.108);

8. Recalling Resolution No. 3 on ”The general approach and means of achieving effective enforcement of judicial decisions”, adopted at their 24th Conference in Moscow in October
2001 and the Committee of Ministers Recommendations Rec(2003)16 and Rec(2003)17 on this subject;

9. Recalling the increasing attention paid in the European Union to the principle of responsible lending in the consumer credit market and to the other minimum harmonisation of consumer
credit provisions (COM (2004) 747);


10. AGREE on the importance to take measures to seek legal and practical solutions to debt problems encountered by citizens in a credit society;

11. RECALL the necessity to pay particular attention to prevention and proper management of debt problems, as well as the role of statutory institutions and non-governmental
organisations involved;

12. INVITE the Committee of Ministers to entrust the European Committee on Legal Cooperation (CDCJ), in co-operation with other competent instances of the Council of Europe

· analyse existing legislation and good practices;

· identify the difficulties met;

· prepare an appropriate instrument defining legislative and administrative
measures, and proposing practical remedies;

· consider, when preparing such an instrument, the role of competent instances in particular courts, administrative authorities, and non-governmental organisations

· consider ways of providing assistance to member States in the application of this instrument and, where necessary, make appropriate proposals to the Committee of

ID: 37215
Author(s): iff
Publication date: 13/04/06

Created: 13/04/06. Last changed: 17/04/06.
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