SOLVIT is an informal problem solving network in which EU Member States work together to solve, without legal proceedings, problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities. There is a SOLVIT centre in every European Union Member State (as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). SOLVIT Centres can help with handling complaints from both citizens and businesses. They are part of the national administration and are committed to providing real solutions to problems within ten weeks. Using SOLVIT is free of charge.
The Internal Market offers citizens and businesses many opportunities. You may want to move to another country in the European Union, to study, to work, to follow your partner or to enjoy life after retirement. Or you may want to set up a business or sell your products or services in another EUMember State.
Sometimes problems arise because of a lack of information about your rights in Europe and about how procedures work in other EUMember States. In such cases, the “Your Europe” portal on the Europa website can help to clarify matters. But if you are already well informed about your internal market rights and have tried in vain to exercise them in another EUcountry, SOLVIT is there to help you.
Where SOLVIT can help
SOLVIT deals with cross-border problems between a business or a citizen on the one hand and a national public authority on the other, where there is possible misapplication of EU law. The policy areas SOLVIT has mostly dealt with so far are:
- Recognition of Professional qualifications and diplomas – Access to education – Residence permits -Voting rights – Social security – Employment rights – Driving licences – Motor vehicle registration -Border controls – Market access for products – Market access for services – Establishment as self-employed – Public procurement – Taxation – Free movement of capital or payments.
The UK SOLVIT centre is operated by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. See contact details below. When you submit a case the Centre will first check the details of your application to make sure that it does indeed concern the misapplication of Internal Market rules and that all the necessary information has been made available. It will raise the problem with the appropriate authority in the UK or with its counterpart in the Member State concerned on behalf of the client.
According to the 2008 SOLVIT Report on Development and Performance of the SOLVIT network, the UK SOLVIT centre was among the fastest to resolve submitted cases.
The report also highlights a key UK problem area – residence rights and visas. It is likely that most problems here are caused by the fact that the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen area, and this can lead to confusion among citizens about the applicable rules and to differing interpretations of those rules among Member States. Furthermore, the United Kingdom is obviously an attractive destination for migrating citizens because of employment opportunities and the English language.
Norwegian citizen’s husband can work in the United Kingdom
A Norwegian doctor and her American husband settled in the United Kingdom. The husband, who was also a doctor, experienced delays in obtaining his residence card in the United Kingdom and was not allowed to start working without the document. SOLVIT Norway contacted SOLVIT United Kingdom, who managed to persuade the competent authority to speed up the processing of the case. After just a few days, the doctor obtained the necessary documents, and was able to start work at the hospital.
Solved within one week.
UK Company Receives VAT Refund From Spain
A company from the United Kingdom had supplied goods to Spain and were entitled to a VAT refund from the Spanish authorities. They introduced their demand in December 2003, however after 10 months there had still been no refund nor an explanation for the delay. SOLVIT intervened to clarify the situation and the company received their money not long afterwards.
Problem solved within 14 weeks
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
UK – London SW1H 0ET
Tel. +44 20 7215 2833