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A Critical Assessment of the Need for Harmonization of the Legal Framework Concerning Abusive Informal Debt Collection Practices in the European Union

C.-G. Stănescu ()
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C.-G. Stănescu: University of Copenhagen

Journal of Consumer Policy, 2021, vol. 44, issue 4, No 2, 557 pages

Abstract: Abstract The loss of jobs and the decline in real incomes caused by the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected consumers’ ability to repay their debts. These have led to high ratios of non-performing loans (NPLs), which affect the stability of the financial industry and undermine economic recovery. The result has been a need for faster debt enforcement and a drastic increase in abusive informal debt collection practices (IDCPs). In the EU, the need to regulate and harmonize abusive IDCPs surfaced in 2018 in connection to the Proposal for a Directive on Credit Servicers, Credit Purchasers and the Recovery of Collateral (CSDP). The directive would enable banks to outsource the servicing of NPLs to a specialized debt collector, but it contained no protection rules against abusive IDCPs. In this article, the researcher critically assesses the need for harmonization of the legal framework concerning abusive IDCPs in the EU, mainly from the standpoint of the initial and current text of the CSDP. Where necessary, the researcher will refer to both historical and comparative law perspectives. The researcher focuses on the legal character of informal debt collection, its relation to financial services, and its potential sui generis character. After that, the researcher will address the arguments for and against establishing pan-EU sector-specific legislation dedicated to IDCPs. Next, the researcher discusses the constitutional authority of the EU to regulate abusive IDCPs. Finally, the researcher will examine the interaction of the CSDP with other consumer (financial) protection instruments to identify the best solution for harmonizing abusive IDCPs at the EU level. The researcher will juxtapose several dichotomies: general versus sector-specific, procedural versus substantive, minimum versus maximum harmonization, and hard versus soft regulation. In the conclusion, the researcher shall synthesize the core problems and suggest an approach.

Keywords: Debt collection; Credit servicing; Consumer protection; Abusive practices; Nonperforming loans; Internal market; Harmonization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10603-021-09495-z

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