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Cooperation between Member States for consumer protection

Consumer protection in connection with cross-border purchases is improved by judicial cooperation between Member States with a view to protecting consumers against rogue traders. This type of cooperation between Member States is designed to ensure the effective application of legislation on consumer protection in the enlarged internal market.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation) [See amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

This Regulation establishes a network of authorities responsible for monitoring the application of legislation concerning consumer protection. The aim is to ensure compliance with the legislation and the smooth functioning of the internal market. The Regulation applies infringements committed in the European Union (EU).

Competent authorities

Each Member State designates the competent authorities and a single liaison office responsible for the application of the Regulation. These authorities have the investigation and enforcement powers necessary for the application of the Regulation. They exercise their competences in conformity with national law.

The competent authorities must act without delay to put a stop to any infringement identified, using the appropriate legal instrument. In most cases they undertake an injunction for reasons of speed. This procedure makes it possible to stop or prohibit unlawful activities, and for rogue traders to be tried before courts in other Member States.

Mutual assistance

The Regulation establishes a framework for mutual assistance which covers the exchange of information, requests for enforcement measures and coordination of market surveillance and enforcement activities.

When a competent authority becomes aware of an infringement committed in the EU it must notify the authorities of other Member States and the Commission. It also supplies, at the request of another competent authority, all relevant information required to establish whether an infringement has occurred. In addition, it must take all necessary enforcement measures to bring about the cessation or prohibition of the infringement.

The competent authorities inform the Commission of the existence of an infringement, the measures taken and the effects thereof, and the coordination of their activities. Information communicated may only be used for the purposes of ensuring compliance with the laws that protect consumers' interests. The Commission stores and processes the information it receives in an electronic database. All requests for mutual assistance must contain sufficient information to enable the authority to fulfil the request.

In certain circumstances an authority may refuse to comply with a request for enforcement measures or information or decide not to fulfil its obligations. In this case it informs the applicant authority and the Commission of the grounds for refusing to comply with a request for assistance.

Activities of EU countries

EU countries inform each other and the Commission of their activities, such as:

  • enforcement coordination: the training of their consumer protection enforcement officials, the collection and classification of consumer complaints;
  • administrative cooperation: provision of consumer information and advice, support of consumer representatives.

The European Union cooperates with third countries and the competent international organisations in order to enhance the protection of consumers' economic interests. This cooperation may be the subject of agreements between the EU and the third countries concerned.

The Commission is assisted by a Committee. In addition, Member States report to the Commission every two years on the application of this Regulation.

Legislation protecting consumers' interests

The Annex to this Regulation specifies the Directives and Regulations which protect consumers. They relate to general and sectoral legislation, such as those concerning unfair commercial practices and passenger transport.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004

29.12.2004

-

OJ L 364 of 9.12.2004

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EU) No 954/2011

7.10.2011

-

OJ L 259 of 4.10.2011

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

RELATED ACTS

Decision 2007/76/EC of 22 December 2006 implementing Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws as regards mutual assistance [Official Journal L 32 of 6.2.2007].
This Decision provides the information requirements, which include the minimum information to be included in requests for mutual assistance and in alerts, the time limits to be complied with, access to information and the use of languages.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 2 July 2009 on the application of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws [COM(2009) 336 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 23.02.2012
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