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Slovakia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2004 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 703 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 511 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 711 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [SEC(2001) 1754 - 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) 1209 - 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 Slovakia would probably be able to transpose the Community acquis in the field of consumer protection in the medium term. However, it invited this country to pursue its efforts to transpose Community law and to reinforce the administrative mechanisms and the consumer organisations.

The November 1998 Report ascertained that little headway had been made in this area, except for the adoption of certain measures amending and fleshing out the 1992 Consumer Protection Act. The report also emphasised that Slovakia had to redouble its efforts to transpose the entire Community acquis. The institutional structures and the consumer organisations also had to be strengthened.

In its October 1999 Report, the Commission noted that an information service had been made available to consumers free of charge. However, various improvements were still required at legislative level.

The October 2002 Report noted that negotiations for the chapter had provisionally concluded and that Slovakia had not asked for transitional provisions.

The October 2003 Report indicates that Slovakia complies with most of the Community acquis concerning safety-related measures (e.g. market surveillance) and non-safety-related measures (e.g. consumer associations). However, it must completely transpose the acquis in both areas, particularly in the first one, by applying the revised Directive on general product safety and by improving 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 Slovakian 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

Slovakia has an effective consumer protection system. However, there are still some shortcomings, safety-related or otherwise, to be corrected.

Safety-related measures

Further alignment is required, for example, with regard to general product safety, particularly by introducing appropriate legal and administrative arrangements for market surveillance. It is also necessary to provide training for customs officials in the new legislation on general product safety.

There is also a need to strengthen the capability of the principal organisations responsible for surveillance by increasing the participation of professional bodies and consumer associations.

All in all, almost no progress was made in 2003 in setting up effective machinery for market surveillance. The last measures to be introduced date from April 2002, with the entry into force of a new law on State monitoring of the internal market for consumer protection matters, strengthening the powers and coordinating role of the Slovak Trade Inspectorate. The Inspectorate's capability was also reinforced in 2002 by the recruitment of additional staff.

Non-safety-related measures

As regards non-safety-related measures, Slovakia complies with the essential points of the acquis and has transposed it properly in this area. However, a system for the out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes still needs to be set up and a few minor adjustments are required in the following areas:

  • application of the acquis concerning liability for defective products,
  • use of immovable property on a timeshare basis,
  • injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests,
  • unfair terms in consumer contracts,
  • certain aspects of the sale of and guarantees for consumer goods.

There is also a need for an overall increase in human and financial resources so that these measures can be introduced.

Consumer associations

One particularly positive factor is the close cooperation between the Slovak authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). However, the human and financial resources of NGOs need to be increased. As regards consumer information, Slovakia has had a free information system ("Infoteka") in place since 1999, which can be consulted at the regional branches of the Slovakian Consumer Association. In addition, the NGOs have mounted awareness-raising campaigns for consumers.

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

Last updated: 09.02.2004
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