Have you encountered a situation in a Member State of the European Union where the authorities do not act in accordance with harmonised rules? Has there been a delay in refunding VAT or has your company been unfairly fined? Do you have unjustified obstacles to the supply or provision of your products?
In such situations, the SOLVIT network between Member States, whose centres operate not only in EU Member States but also in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, can help. It is a free service designed to quickly and effectively solve problems in the internal market out of court. The SOLVIT network will try to find a solution to the problem within 10 weeks.
If the authority breaks the rules
SOLVIT can only provide assistance if the authority of another Member State has violated European Union law, either the provisions of a directive, a directly applicable regulation or also the Treaty establishing the European Union. If the requirement is established by the Member State itself in an area that is not regulated by European Union law, then SOLVIT cannot, unfortunately, help. Nor can SOLVIT intervene in complaints for which legal proceedings have been initiated. It should be stressed that SOLVIT is a voluntary cooperation network between Member States, which requires cooperation between the authorities. If the complaint cannot be resolved through SOLVIT, it is necessary to go to court or file a formal complaint with the European Commission.
The SOLVIT network handles nearly 5,000 complaints a year, of which nearly 90% are resolved. The largest share of complaints are citizens’ problems, in particular on social security (benefits, allowances, pensions) and the free movement of persons (visas for family members from third countries, residence permits). As a general rule, entrepreneurs prefer to go directly to court or refrain from filing a complaint. In 2020, only 135 company complaints were lodged with SOLVIT.
Estonian entrepreneurs have received help
However, we also encourage businesses to turn to us with their cross-border concerns. For example, we have helped Estonian entrepreneurs to recover VAT from Romania, which according to the directive should be refunded within four months, but which has been delayed much longer (e.g. for years). We have also helped transport operators who have been unfairly fined, for example, for allegedly having the tachograph in the wrong place in a lorry, even though it was properly installed by the manufacturer. In the case of a complaint made to us in which a driver was fined for speeding on the basis of digital data in Italy, the European Commission has opened infringement proceedings against Italy.
In recent years, we have been approached by a number of hauliers who have been fined for their connection with the Polish cowbare monitoring system SENT. Unfortunately, the subsequent challenge to the fine through SOLVIT has unfortunately failed to produce results, as it is a national system established in Poland and there is no direct link to European Union law. At the same time, this obligation to declare goods directly affects the free movement of goods within the European Union.
More information about the cases solved by SOLVIT and the Estonian Centre can be found at https://ttja.ee/siseturu-probleemide-lahendamine.
A complaint can be filed with SOLVIT electronically by filling in the complaint form and choosing the second option “Solve problems related to EU rights with a public authority (individuals and companies)”.
Consumer and Business Advisory Department
Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority
Endla 10a, 10122 Tallinn
667 2121, 620 1723