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Latvia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2005 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 506 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [SEC(2001) 1749 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC (2003) 1203 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that Latvia had to continue its reforms in the field of consumer protection and hence to amend or replace a large proportion of the existing legislation by new laws to ensure compliance with the requirements of the European Community in this field. Besides, it emphasized the need to create more effective institutional structures to ensure that the law is enforced. However, it concluded that Latvia should have no serious problems in adopting the Community acquis in the medium term.

The November 1998 Report ascertained that little progress had been made in transposing the acquis in this area. In addition, despite improvements in the institutional structures, it was necessary to continue efforts to improve them.

In its October 1999 Report, the Commission noted that steady progress had been made in terms of legislative alignment. In addition to framework legislation on protecting consumer rights, several specific acts had been adopted. Improvements were still necessary in regard to the institutional framework.

The October 2002 Report indicated that Latvia had provisionally closed negotiations on the chapter relating to consumer protection and had not requested any transitional arrangements.

The October 2003 Report confirms that Latvia complies with the majority of the Community acquis on legislation relating to safety, market surveillance and consumer associations. However, improvements still have to be made in such areas, particularly to completely transpose non-safety-related measures and ensure that both these and the safety-related measures are correctly applied.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

The Community acquis covers the protection of consumers' economic interests (notably in the fields of misleading advertising, indication of prices, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, distance selling, package travel, and timeshares), general product safety, cosmetics safety, the labelling of textile products and toy safety.

The European Association Agreement provides for aligning the legislation with Community law and for cooperation measures to bring Latvian consumer protection law fully into line with the Community rules. The measures set out in the first phase of the White Paper on the Central and Eastern European Countries and the Internal Market (1995) focus on the improvement of product safety, notably in respect of cosmetics, textiles and toys, and on the protection of consumers' economic interests, mainly in the field of misleading advertising, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, and indication of prices. The second-phase measures concern package travel and timeshares. New, recently adopted Community legislation (distance selling, comparative advertising and indication of prices) must also be transposed.

EVALUATION

Safety-related measures

Latvian legislation conforms to the Community acquis on safety-related measures, but the new Directive on general product safety has not yet been transposed. As regards the market surveillance mechanism needed to apply this Directive, the necessary information system still needs to be set up and the human and financial resources of the bodies responsible for this task strengthened.

Non-safety-related measures

Latvia has already transposed the non-safety-related measures. There is just one point, the acquis on consumer credit, which is still to be confirmed. Further efforts are necessary to ensure full compliance with the acquis on the protection of consumers' economic interests. The relevant structures and the arbitration boards, responsible for dealing with consumer complaints, also need to be strengthened.

At institutional level, consumer policy comes within the remit of the Ministry of the Economy. The other bodies involved in this sector are the Committee for the Surveillance of Trade, the Consumer Rights Protection Centre (the principal authority responsible for the general safety of non-food products) and the Market Surveillance Council.

Consumer associations

As for associations, those which protect consumer interests play an increasingly important role but require greater support if they are to protect consumer interests effectively. In particular, they should play a more active role in defining safety standards for consumer products.

Moreover, efforts to raise consumer and producer awareness of their rights and respective responsibilities must be continued.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

 
Last updated: 15.01.2004
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