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EU Solvit Centers to be Established in Hungary

After May 1, Hungarian individuals and corporations will be able to seek remedy for disputes that may arise with companies or organizations of other member states via the EU’s Solvit system.

According to officials of the Foreign Ministry, a Hungarian Solvit office will operate under the ministry’s integration and foreign trade state secretariat. The exact contact details will be made public after Hungary’s EU accession.

The main idea behind the EU’s arbitration network, which has been operating since the middle of 2002, is to provide assistance for EU citizens who feel they are being mistreated in any of the member states. The assistance is free of charge, and involves Solvit offices contacting the relevant companies or institutions and trying to eliminate the problems, in most cases resulting from incorrect interpretation of EU regulations, officials said.

According to Foreign Ministry officials, in Hungary most of the complaints are expected to come in connection with two areas: the free movement of labor, and the recognition of Hungarian diplomas and qualifications in other member states.

According to statistics released by existing Solvit offices, approximately 80% of the cases landing there are resolved successfully. This significantly reduces the number of cases ending up in court.

Rapidity is another advantage of the system, officials said. After endorsing a complaint, the national Solvit office gets in touch with the office of the given member state. After registering the complaint, the offices have up to ten weeks to suggest a solution to the parties.

According to officials, although the Solvit offices have no public administration power, their recommendations are in most cases respected by the parties. The European Commission monitors the operation of Solvit offices.

(BBJ 29.iii.04)

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