SOLVIT is a service provided by the national administrations. There is a SOLVIT centre in each EU Member State and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. They work together via an online database.
SOLVIT helps people and businesses who encounter difficulties in another EU Member State when public authorities do not apply EU legislation correctly.
It is a faster, informal alternative to starting a court case, submitting a formal complaint to the Commission or launching forward a petition.
Find out more about SOLVIT.
SOLVIT and the Single Market – why does it matter?
SOLVIT is an informal problem-solving network that can help EU citizen or businesses when their rights are breached by public authorities in another EU Member State.
SOLVIT centres also act as “agents for change”, helping national authorities comply better with Single Market rules. This in turn further increases SOLVIT’s positive effects; therefore, it can efficiently promote a culture of compliance and better enforcement of EU law in the Single Market together with the Member States.
- SOLVIT resources are being increasingly stretched because more cases come in over the year and more expectations from SOLVIT rise. It is particularly important that SOLVIT centres have sufficient resources and are adequately staffed as since 19 April 2020 the Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of goods applies. From this date, SOLVIT is the first port of call for businesses who want to solve problems encountered in this field. Member States are obliged to sufficiently equip their SOLVIT centres to deal with these problems.
- The September 2020 Competitiveness Council stressed that SOLVIT can only be impactful for individuals and businesses if Member States and the Commission prioritise the network. This requires political commitment from the Member States at the high political level because SOLVIT deals with all legal areas and not only with the specific areas of the ministry that the centre is located. This commitment can materialise in providing adequate resources to the SOLVIT centres and ensuring sufficient authority and cooperation within the national administration.
- In addition, SOLVIT helps companies and citizens in times of Single Market disruption such as the current COVID-19 crisis. When striving for recovery, more businesses should make use of the services SOLVIT offers.
Overall staffing indicator-Staffing level in SOLVIT centres
The staffing assessment is calculated on the basis of the following indicators: Continuity of case handlers (At least one member of staff is working in SOLVIT for more than 2 years), large part of case handling relies on short-term staff, staff adequate for current caseload, other tasks in parallel with SOLVIT, centre always operational, staff tries to address structural/recurrent problems, staff engages in awareness raising activities and staff available for policy development/trainings etc.
|SOLVIT centre||Continuity of case handlers (At least one member of staff is working in SOLVIT for more than 2 years)||Large part of case handling relies on short-term staff||Staff adequate for SOLVIT tasks||Other tasks in parallel with SOLVIT||Centre always operational||Staff address structural/recurrent problems||Staff engages in awareness raising activities||Staff engages in SOLVIT development||Total Score of Indicators|
|Austria||YES: +1||NO: +1||NO:-3||YES:-1||NO:-1||YES: +1||NO:-1||NO:-1||-3|
* Countries with under 10 cases.
|||Home centre sending an initial reply within the 7-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55 to 75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Home centre submitting case to lead centre within 30-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55 to 75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Home centre accepting a proposed solution within 7-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55 to 75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Home centre not accepting a complaint within 30 day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55 to 75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Lead centre accepting a case within 7-day target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55 to 75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Lead centre handling a case within 10-week target in:||≥ 75% of cases||55 to 75% of cases||< 55% of cases|
|||Lead centre resolution rate:||≥ 90%||70 to 90%||< 70%|
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis it was more difficult for SOLVIT centres to stay within the target benchmarks.
Indicator : Home centre – first response time
Indicator : Home centre – preparation time
Indicator : Home centre – time to accept a solution
Indicator : Home centre – time to not accept a complaint
Indicator : Lead centre - time to accept a case
Indicator : Lead centre – resolution time
Average number of days taken: 133 (100 in 2019).
Over 10 weeks: 46% of cases (40% in 2019 and 37% in 2018).
Over 20 weeks (twice the target time): 31% of cases (22% in 2019 and 18% in 2018).
Factors affecting resolution speed:
- cooperation with national administrations
- case complexity
- number and continuity of staff (many centres are understaffed, have other tasks in addition to SOLVIT-related work or members rotate frequently).
Indicator : Resolution rate by country
- ensure SOLVIT centres are adequately staffed;
- enable staff to spend sufficient time on SOLVIT work;
- ensure the continuity and expertise of staff;
- ensure that national authorities cooperate with SOLVIT;
- follow-up on more general difficulties in the single market detected through SOLVIT.
SOLVIT centres should:
- focus on the quality of case handling;
- ensure a maximum number of cases reach SOLVIT, especially from businesses;
- liaise with counterparts in the Europe Enterprise Network and other national business stakeholders;
- take action to diversify the caseload (as home and lead and in legal areas);
- ensure SOLVIT centres have access to legal expertise on problem areas for business;
- organise network meetings to help ensure national administrations support and recognise SOLVIT’s role;
- ensure that issues linked to breaches of EU law detected through SOLVIT are channelled to the responsible services in the country concerned.
The Commission should:
- promote the use of SOLVIT;
- make use of the available data and evidence from SOLVIT for policy making and identifying barriers in the single market;
- ensure SOLVIT is the default tool for handling complaints in the EU Commission and single market dispute resolution
- assist the SOLVIT centres in building up legal expertise by making use of online options;
- ensure cooperation with ELA.
Facts and figures
- Social security remains the biggest problem area dealt with by SOLVIT.
- No big rise or fall in numbers in the other legal areas.
- In 52 cases, SOLVIT centres requested legal support from Commission experts, who provided their advice within an average of 19 days.
Informal legal advice provided
Commission experts are invited to provide their informal legal advice within 14 working days, this deadline was met in 44% of the cases
Legal areas informal legal advice
The legal areas where informal legal advice was provided are similar to those of the SOLVIT caseload
- 75% of the business cases were solved.
- SOLVIT has stepped up its efforts to attract business cases:
- An advanced legal training courses for national SOLVIT centres on free movement of goods took place in cooperation with the VUB University, in Brussels, Belgium;
- update on MR implementation;
- business intermediary organisations have registered and can now submit and follow their cases directly in SOLVIT;
- cooperation with the Enterprise Europe Network has been intensified;
- A joint online business SOLVIT event took place on 21st October 2020 on the new Regulation 2019/515 on Mutual Recognition for goods and its problem solving procedure based on SOLVIT;
- SOLVIT-European Enterprise Network event was organised Single Market Thematic Area;
- The main problem areas for business continued to be:
- taxation (39%)
- free movement of goods (20%)
- social security (19%)
- free movement of services (9%)
- vehicles/driving licences (4%)
- small businesses providing most of the cases.
Cases linked to more general difficulties in the Single Market by problem area and Member State
|Free movement of persons and right to reside||2||1||1||2||1||5||1||8||1||23|
|Recognition of Professional Qualifications||1||1||2|
|Vehicles and driving licences||1||1||1||1|
|Free movement for goods||1||1|
|Free movement for services||1||1||2|
|Free movement of workers||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||6|
|Free movement of capitals and financial services||1||1|
|Access to education|
- cases closed within 10 weeks: 43%
- Longest handling time: 959 days
Difficulties in the Single Market (as reported in the SOLVIT database)
Problems linked to COVID-19 restrictions:
- difficulties in claiming cross-border unemployment benefits;
- social assistance/minimum income not granted for business activity where economic operators reside in another Member State;
- access to healthcare not granted on basis of European Health Insurance Cards.
Issues for EU citizens trying to get their professional qualifications recognised in another country included:
- problems getting professional qualifications recognised for clinical psychologists in Belgium and social paedagogical educators in Italy;
- difficulties for nurses who acquired part of their training in a non-EU country in receiving automatic recognition, and for speech therapists to follow compensatory measures required in France;
- delays in processing applications for recognition of professional qualifications incompatible with the EU’s Professional Qualifications Directive in Spain.
Cross-border goods and services providers encountered the following obstacles:
- six week limit on the provision of surfing lessons by persons not established in France;
- obstacles to social security reimbursement of medicine sold by parallel traders in France;
- requirement to obtain licence or authorisation for in-house haulage to subsidiaries established in Croatia.
EU citizens encountered the following social security issues when moving cross border:
- delays in exchanging information under cross-border EU social security rules affecting most EU countries;
- refusal to issue confirmation that a person has no right to family benefits in Belgium;
- refusal by a public hospital in Czechia to accept European Health Insurance Cards;
- delays in handling applications for family benefits in Hungary;
- unjustified delays to admit EU worker holding a PIN to the national social security system in Sweden;
- difficulties to admit family member of EU worker to the national social security system in Cyprus;
- delays in handling applications for EU cross-border pension in Greece (reported since 2019);
- lack of reply on administrative forms for family benefits via both paper and electronic (EESSI) means in Sweden;
- refusal by the relevant authority in Germany to investigate and retrieve documents in order to establish rights to family benefits (reported since 2019).
Problems with entry and residence rights:
- delays in issuing residence cards to non-EU family members of EU citizens in Sweden (reported since 2018), Austria and Cyprus;
- EU citizens have difficulties registering in the population register and obtaining a personal identification number which is necessary to gain access to certain essential public and private services in Sweden (reported since 2018);
- unjustified conditions and refusals for short-term visas for non-EU family members of EU citizens in Norway, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands (reported since 2018), in Bulgaria and in Germany;
- difficulties in obtaining permanent residence status in Slovenia;
- registered partnerships of a different sex cannot benefit from EU law entry and residence facilitation procedures in Germany (reported since 2019)
Issues of discrimination:
- severe delays in the exchange of foreign driver licences in France, with no issuance of a temporary driving licence (reported since 2019);
- agricultural land can only be bought under certain conditions notably EU registration ID and B2-level knowledge of Latvian in Latvia (also reported in 2017);
- higher charges for fishing permits for foreigners than for national citizens in Norway;
- condition for cross-border workers to have a bank account in Spain to receive temporary unemployment benefits (ERTE).
- discrimination in access to employment in Portugal for a qualified doctor educated in Germany and with work experience in another Member State;
Success stories – examples of problems solved in 2020
SOLVIT helped to remove the following barriers to the free movement of people, goods and services in the EU:
- delays and problems in administrative procedures for cross border workers due to Covid-19 crisis in many countries;
- movement restrictions due to COVID-19 crisis to cross border workers to rebuild a hospital in Croatia;
- unjustified delays for VAT refunds of EU companies in Romania;
- denial of the multilingual public documents forms in line with Regulation 2019/1191 and request instead of translated and certified documents in Germany;
- refusal of recognition of Estonian food technologist’s qualification in Cyprus;
- non-issuance of a certificate of conformity of professional qualifications acquired in Portugal by Spanish nurses;
- unjustified administrative formalities and limited validity for registration certificate required after first three-months of residence to EU citizens in Bulgaria;
- no equal treatment on family benefits allowances for Croatian worker in Belgium;
- problems to define the applicable legislation in Lithuania and Poland for Danish posted workers;
- problems and delays in exchange of information for social security benefits in many countries;
- difficulties for seasonal workers to obtain unemployment benefits in Portugal.
More Information on SOLVIT
How does SOLVIT work?
People and businesses who encounter a problem exercising their rights can seek help from their home centre (usually in their home country), via an online application procedure.
The home centre prepares the case and sends it to the SOLVIT centre in the country where the problem occurred (the lead centre), which deals with the authority in question.