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Which? calls for EU to fund consumer panel

Consumer watchdog Which? is lobbying the European Commission to fund an EU-wide consumer panel designed to hold financial services firms and regulators to account.

The proposed consumer panel would have sweeping powers and position itself as the EU equivalent to the UK’s Financial Services Consumer Panel. It would comprise consumer groups across the EU which will summon quarterly public hearings with firms and regulators.

Which? aired the proposal officially in Brussels earlier this week at a meeting of consumer groups, firms and trade bodies chaired by European Commissioner for internal markets and services Charlie McCreevy.

The meeting was discussing the European Commission’s financial services green paper in which McCreevy called for an end to gold plating of European directives and more careful vetting of the impact of regulation.

Which? principal policy adviser Mick McAteer says: “This panel will hold the companies and regulators across Europe to account. It will also help consumer groups compete with powerful industry lobby groups. We need to make sure we don’t repeat the UK pensions misselling scandal on a EU-wide basis.”

But Personal Finance Society public affairs director John Ellis says: “I can’t see what an EU wide body would achieve as each country has its own specific issues and demands. There is no lack of power on behalf of consumers and UK consumers have enough representation already.”

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