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Meet Catalin-Gabriel Stanescu

In his research, Catalin-Gabriel Stanescu, an Associate Professor at the Department of Law, is driven by questions concerning financial protection of consumers and how to achieve better regulation of debt collection activities in the EU. Learn more about his research and visions in this interview.

What are your research interests?

I mainly focus on consumer financial protection, informal debt collection, regulation of abusive debt collection practices, and the impact of digitalization on financial products offered to consumers.

How did you become interested in your field of research?

Before becoming an academic, I worked as an attorney in my home country, Romania. During the financial crisis and its immediate aftermath (2008-2010), I became aware of many practical issues affecting consumers that arose from their credit agreements or during enforcement procedures.

Given the absence of adequate legislation, most consumers were utterly exposed to abusive practices from creditors or debt collectors. I took an interest in finding a practical solution to these issues and ended up doing a PhD (2011-2015) and, subsequently, a Marie Curie-funded project in which I pursued this challenge (2019-2021). And there is still more to be done.

What research question would you above all like to find the answer to? And why is that?

During the years within the Talent Track program, I will finalize my work on regulating informal debt collection practices in the EU. I will undertake a research stay at the European University Institute to complete a book advancing a principled approach to said regulation.

Empirical data has revealed that only 9 of 27 EU Member States have sector-specific legislation dealing with abusive debt collection practices. A Directive adopted in November 2021 requires all Member States to implement a minimum set of rules to curb abusive debt collection practices by 2024. However, the Directive is not a consumer law instrument, and any protection for consumers stemming from its provisions is indirect.

Moreover, the details and the coverage of blind spots are left to the Member States. Thus, there is a significant risk that consumer protection against abusive debt collection will vary in content, quality, and intensity or will be reduced to a bare minimum. The approach I am advancing will enable the Member States to design adequate protection rules while ensuring a high degree of harmonization across the Union.

The ultimate goal of my participation in the Talent Track program is to strengthen my expertise and research profile in the field of consumer financial protection to pursue an ERC Consolidator Grant in the next couple of years.

Which impact do you expect the Talent Track will have on your career and on your research field in general?

Besides the opportunity to conduct research and finalize my book at one of the most prestigious research facilities in Europe and the world (EUI), the program will enable me to become the leading expert in regulating informal debt collection practices in the European Union. By generously financing the open-access publication of my book, the program will allow wide dissemination of my research and policy considerations, which should enhance my research profile.

On top of these immediate effects, I will have the opportunity to experience a different research environment, engage with peers and established senior researchers, learn new things, sharpen and deepen my ideas. Ultimately, I will have the opportunity to improve and develop the needed skills for pursuing the most prestigious European research grant, which is my main goal.

Which impact do you expect your research to have on the surrounding society?

The starting point of my research was practical. The result is practical as well. The principled approach I envision and the policy considerations that will derive from it should have a broad societal impact. They should aid policymakers and legislators in designing effective and efficient rules to address the adverse effects of abusive debt collection practices and find the right balance between the legitimate interests of debtors and creditors. Thus, they should lead to a fair treatment of consumers in financial distress and encourage companies to act and behave ethically.

Catalin-Gabriel Stanescu

Catalin-Gabriel Stanescu is an Associate Professor at the Department of Law.


Editing was completed: 08.11.2022