ESMA and EBA publish harmonised guidelines for handling consumer complaints across the EU

13 June 2014

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) published today their Joint Committee final Report on guidelines for handling consumer complaints in the securities and banking sectors. The document aims to increase market confidence and for the benefit of consumers and firms alike it will ensure a harmonised approach to handling complaints for all 28 EU Member States and across all financial services sectors.

The final report published today is part of the efforts of the European Supervisory Authorities to bring further supervisory convergence across the securities and banking sectors. It was developed on the basis of the existing complaints-handling guidelines established by EIOPA (the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) for the insurance sector. The report was launched for a public consultation last year and this final version takes into consideration the feedback received.

ESMA and the EBA consider that these guidelines will ensure a consistent approach to complaints-handling across the EU. Consumers can purchase financial services and products in the investment, banking and insurance sectors across the entire EU Single Market and these guidelines will allow them to refer to a single set of complaints-handling arrangements. EU consumers will therefore be able to rely on the same approach irrespective of what type of product they have purchased and where they have purchased it.

In addition to strengthening consumer protection -a key statutory objective for ESMA and for the EBA-, the guidelines will also allow firms, some of which sell products from more than one sector across the EU, to streamline and standardise their own complaints-handling arrangements. National regulators too will be able to supervise the same harmonised requirements across all sectors of financial services in their own jurisdictions.

The guidelines will be translated into the official languages of the European Union (EU) and they will become applicable two months after the date of publication of their translations.

Note to the editors

The European system for the supervision of the financial sector is made of three supervisory authorities: the European Securities and Markets Authorities (ESMA), the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). The system also comprises the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) as well as the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities and the national supervisory authorities.

Whilst the national supervisory authorities remain in charge of supervising individual financial institutions, the objective of the European supervisory authorities is to improve the functioning of the internal market by ensuring appropriate, efficient and harmonised European regulation and supervision.

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