On the 29th of May, DG Sanco held its annual European Consumer
Summit. The event was an occasion to
discuss the communication on consumer agenda which foresees future actions to
be implemented by 2014 and looks at long term objectives in light of the EU2020
The consumer agenda revolves around four core objectives: reinforce
consumer safety for goods and services, enhance knowledge (consumer and trader
education), improve enforcement and secure redress and align rights and
policies to economic and societal change.
These objectives are mainstreamed in five key sectors: food, energy,
financial sector, transport and the digital sector.
Several points were raised
during the plenary session. Enforcement
existing EU legislation was underlined as key since many EU initiatives never
get properly implemented in Member states. Availability
was opposed to information
and thus the dilemma of providing clear, relevant and concise
information to consumers without drowning them in heaps of information. On collective
, several interventions expressed their disappointment with the
Commissions' relative immobility on the issue although it has been discussed
for over 30 years now...
COFACE stressed the need to
focus on vulnerable consumers
children and the online world. Children are often targeted for commercial
purposes online and are victims of misleading advertising or scams bordering
legality. In-app purchases, ringtone
websites, these are among the many commercial practices which must be much
better regulated in the online world. COFACE called on a better cooperation
between DG Sanco and DG Connect on these issues.
From the start, the Consumer rights directive has been presented as a magic pill to solve the remaining issues outstanding in the EU to secure both high level consumer protection and finalise the internal market for an optimal exchange of goods and services. The maximum harmonisation option along with the concrete proposals inside the original draft came far from addressing these issues. Many member States' level of protection would have been lowered or at best, locked for the next years with an impossibility to legislate and provide higher protection if need be.
Firstly, it needs to be underlined that many online goods and services are provided across Europe, despite the lack of consistency in consumer protection, simply because the providers drafted a single high level consumer rights protection policy complying with all the existing legislations in the EU.
Furthermore, the directive failed to identify that the costs associated with translation, consumer service in relevant languages, delivery costs as well as lack of clarity of providers' websites with regards to cross-border trade would still present obstacles for the EU exchange of goods and services and would thus not boost consumer confidence or solve all problems for cross-border trade of goods and services.
In this light, COFACE insists on uphold the principle of targeted harmonisation so as to provide benefits for the consumers where need be without presenting an obstacle to the provision of future improvements to consumer protection policy developments initiated by member States or the EU institutions.
Published on 09 Nov 2011
Updated on 05 Jul 2012