With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for cross-border creditors.

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Around 50 % of all consumers shop online, and the number of cross-border transactions in the internal market is growing steadily. However, the individual value of such transactions remains relatively small, with almost half coming under €100. Because the amounts involved are small, not all contracts are properly performed, which sometimes leads to cross-border disputes, most of which do not end up in court. According to estimates, there could be as many as 0.5 million cross-border consumer cases of a value below €2 000 and some 130 000 such cases between businesses per year in the EU. The annual number of consumer claims for amounts between €2 000 and €10 000 is estimated at 84 000, and claims between businesses at 208 700.

Young woman calculating and paying bills in home office
© leszekglasner / Fotolia

To assist cross-border creditors who need to take a debtor in a different country to court over a small sum of money, the EU created the European small claims procedure in 2008. This simple, fast procedure is available only for small monetary claims in cross-border cases. Using ready-available standard forms, in all EU languages, its basic elements are identical throughout the EU.

Reform of the procedure in 2015 means creditors can now make cross-border claims up to €5 000. Court fees were reduced, and digital technology is increasingly used to take evidence, further reducing costs and making the proceeding easier.

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