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Lithuania

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 507 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 1750 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) 1204 - 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 Lithuanian consumer protection law fell considerably short of the Community directives, notably as regards general product safety. It considered that Lithuania was having serious difficulties in ensuring compliance with the existing law, despite the creation of institutional structures to implement consumer protection legislation. However, the Commission concluded that Lithuania should be in a position to transpose the Community acquis in the field of consumer policy in the medium-term, provided it continued its harmonisation work.

The November 1998 Report ascertained that very little headway had been made in this area and stressed in particular that Lithuania needed to redouble its efforts, mainly as regards transposition of the Community acquis.

In its October 1999 Report, the Commission noted that, despite positive developments, a great deal remained to be done in implementing a consumer policy both at institutional level and in terms of raising the Lithuanian people's awareness of consumer protection policy.

The October 2002 Report noted that Lithuania had continued to make progress despite difficulties encountered in setting up the institutional structure for consumer protection. Lithuania had reached a good level of alignment with the acquis, particularly in terms of safety, but further measures were still necessary and enforcement capacity needed to be increased.

The October 2003 Report confirms that Lithuania complies with most of the Community acquis in terms of legislation on product safety, market surveillance and consumer associations. However, further work is needed in these areas, including full transposition of non-safety-related measures and improved market surveillance.
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 Lithuanian 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

Lithuanian legislation complies with the Community acquis in terms of safety-related measures, but the new Directive on general product safety has not yet been transposed. With regard to the market surveillance mechanism required for the application of the Directive, the necessary information system has yet to be put in place, and the human and financial resources of the bodies charged with these tasks still need to be strengthened.

Cooperation between bodies involved in market surveillance activities should be reinforced and extended to other bodies, including customs, which should play a much more significant role in checks on the safety of imported products. The range of products checked by market surveillance authorities should be widened.

Non safety-related measures

The acquis in the field of consumer protection is not yet fully transposed. A national database on the market for consumer goods and services must also be set up.

In addition, the powers of arbitration bodies, which play a key role in resolving consumer complaints, must be increased.

Consumer associations

Lithuania must also continue its efforts to support consumer associations with a view to involving them in the implementation of the new national consumer protection strategy and the national consumer education programme.

The activities of the Consumer Protection Commission, an advisory body attached to the National Consumer Rights Protection Council, should also be promoted.

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

Last updated: 21.01.2004
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