MEPs push for cancer survivors’ right to be forgotten in accessing financial services

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The number of cancer survivors in the EU has now reached some 12 million people and is growing every year. Because of their medical history, some cancer survivors experience an unfair treatment in accessing financial services. In particular, they face extremely high insurance premiums.

Irish MEP Deirdre Clune (PPE), said that France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have already made sure that cancer survivors can use their right to be forgotten when, for instance, applying for a mortgage 10 years after the end of their treatment, if there has been no relapse. In most EU countries, however, patients who survive cancer often have to pay particularly high premiums for basic financial services for many years.

In this context, the MEP asked the European Commission whether the review of the Consumer Credit Directive support an inclusive approach to vulnerable groups of consumers, such as cancer patients and survivors, in order to address this issue in EU-wide legislation.

Commission Vice-President Didier Reynders said that the EU Executive will closely examine practices in the area of financial services (including insurance) from the point of view of fairness towards cancer survivors in long-term remission. For example, a stakeholder dialogue to develop a code of conduct will be launched to ensure that only necessary and proportionate information is used when assessing the eligibility of applicants for financial products.

He recalled that the new proposal for a Directive on consumer credits aims at ensuring a high and consistent level of consumer protection, including for vulnerable consumers, and at fostering the internal market for consumer credit.

Reynders noted that the proposal refers in a recital to European Banking Authority Guidelines on information to be considered for the assessment of consumer creditworthiness, and points out that such assessments should be based on information on the financial and economic situation of the consumer, while health data, including cancer data, should not be used.

Earlier this year, the issue had already been raised by the EPP: “Europe must end the obstacles for former cancer patients when they want to access financial instruments such as loans, mortgages and life insurance. They mustn’t be punished for getting cancer”, said Cindy Franssen MEP, the EPP Group’s Spokeswoman for cancer-related issues.

This views have been echoed by a number of individuals, organisations and institutions. In a resolution against financial discrimination of cancer survivors tabled at the European Cancer Summit 2018, Member Societies of the European Cancer Organisation and its Patient Advisory Committee, this resolution set a target of 2025 for delivery of the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ for cancer survivors in all European countries and was agreed on, following public consultation, by 400 leading representatives of healthcare professional, patient, research and other stakeholder communities.