SOLVIT is an online problem-solving network for EU citizens and businesses that is designed to help solve difficult cross-border problems with national EU administrations without resort to legal proceedings.
The SOLVIT network focuses on issues where there may be a possible misapplication of EU law. There is a SOLVIT centre in every European Union country (as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). The centres handle 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.
You may have problems with getting a residence permit, getting your professional qualifications recognised or registering a car. Your employment, social security or tax rights might be denied. You might have trouble getting the right to vote in European and local elections in the country to which you have moved. Your business could be facing administrative obstacles, unjustified refusal of access to a national market or problems in getting reimbursement of VAT.
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.
(Update 03 March 2014)
Solvit currently handles around 1,300 cases a year, and manages to find solutions for around 90 % of its clients within the deadline of 70 days. Yet many legislators feel that the organisation remains under-used and has not fulfilled its potential.
The European Parliament recently adopted a report that aims to bring improvements. MEP Morten Lokkegarrd (ALDE, Venstre, Denmark), the Parliament’s rapporteur on the issue, feels that, “It is time to take SOLVIT to the next level, a SOLVIT 2.0 so to speak. SOLVIT needs to have a stronger focus on businesses and take on more of the complex business-related cases.”
In the long run, that could lead to a split of resources into a Citizens SOLVIT and a Companies SOLVIT. Another proposal to strengthen the service’s accountability would be to include it in the framework of the European semester (Internal market surveillance).