HC Deb 12 March 1981 vol 1000 cc370-1W
Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress has been made in negotiations over the various draft directives proposed by the Commission and currently before the Council to liberalise the European market in insurance services; what is the Government's policy towards each of these directives; and what benefits might be expected to accrue to the British insurance industry from each of them.

Mr. Eyre

The draft non-life insurance services directive is still being considered within the Council machinery and is expected to be discussed by the Council of Ministers on 16 March. The draft directive on insurance contract law has begun to be examined in a Council working party at expert level. The draft directive on credit insurance has been the subject of opinions from the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, the latter of which have also given an opinion on the draft directive on legal expenses insurance. The draft directive on assistance insurance has recently been submitted by the European Commission for consideration within the Council framework.

The Government's attitude to these draft directives and their implications for the United Kingdom remain as set out in the explanatory memoranda deposited in Parliament*.

The direct benefit to the United Kingdom insurance industry to be expected from each of these directives will vary according to the extent to which they directly open Community markets but the services directive alone is estimated to be worth over £55 million net to the United Kingdom in a first year of operation.

The progress of the individual draft directives referred to is summarised in the following table:

EEC Insurance Directives
(1) (2) (3)
(Informal) Title of Directive Stage reached in Community process Purpose
Non-Life services Four questions will be considered by the Finance Council on 16 March; the remainder of the directive will continue to be considered by COREPER. This will establish the regime under which risks may be directly underwritten across frontiers.
Insurance contract law In early stages of consideration in a Council working party. Co-ordinates particular areas of the insurance contract law of the Member States.
Legal expenses Considered by Economic and Social Committee but not yet considered by European Parliament. Amends the Non-Life Establishment Directive of 1973. Provides for Germany to give up specialisation in this field in return for elimination of possible conflicts of interest within one insurance company. Government is watching development in close consultation with interested parties.
Credit Returned from European Parliament; a revised draft is awaited from the Commission. Amends the Non-Life Establishment Directive of 1973. Provides for Germany to give up specialisation in this field in return for a requirement that insurers writing this type of business should meet stricter financial requirements.
Health Draft awaited from the Commission. Purpose will be, as for credit and legal expenses, to end German requirement for specialisation.
Motorist/tourist assistance Recently submitted by Commission for consideration within Council framework. Amends the Non-Life Establishment Directive of 1973. Would create a separate class of insurance business covering the services provided by assistance organisations.
* Services Directive: Explanatory Memoranda dated 13 March 1978 and 25 February 1981.
Contract Law Directive: Explanatory Memoranda dated August 1979, 31 October 1980, and 12 February 1981.
Credit Directive: Explanatory Memorandum dated 25 October 1979.
Legal Expenses Directive: Explanatory Memorandum dated 14 September 1979.
Assistance Directive: Explanatory Memorandum to be prepared.

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