Credit and Debt: Protecting The Vulnerable In Europe

As recent problems in the financial markets underscore access to credit and the treatment of indebtedness are increasingly important issues.

Among the questions asked in this context:

  • can and should financial services be more easily traded across borders?
  • will credit and debt prove the Achilles' heel of the economy or the spur for growth?
  • where should protective instruments for vulnerable consumers be located?
  • what is or should be their content and can or should protection be harmonised?

While the Commission has argued for a single market in financial services (2005 White Paper/Financial Services), for greater coherence in EC consumer law (2007 Green Paper/Consumer Acquis) and contract law in general (2004 Communication/Contract law), financial services' markets, measures of consumer protection and EC contract law remain highly fragmented.

This project, funded by a Marie Curie Research Grant, aims to tackle these issues from a legal perspective.

It uses a comparative study of the instruments protecting the vulnerable consumers from the full extent of his/her contractual obligations; instruments which vary from one Member State to the next but which centre on the instruments of undue influence, unconscionability and good faith.