EU consumer policy priorities include:
In an effective, integrated EU economy based on EU-wide rules, you should be able to buy goods and services in other EU countries confident that your consumer rights will be protected if something goes wrong.
The EU’s consumer protection programme (2007-13) aims to give you a high level of legal protection and make sure the law is properly enforced .
Whether you shop at the market or online, the EU protects your rights.
EU policy ensures a high level of consumer safety in many areas:
The EU also safeguards consumers’ wider interests in areas such as:
All toys have to meet EU safety standards.
In response to the growth of financial services and electronic commerce, the Commission has proposed guidelines for good on-line business practices and rules for all aspects of consumer credit and non-cash payments.
Consumer interests are already factored into laws liberalising key public services like transport, electricity and gas, telecommunications and post. As a result you should enjoy universal access to high-quality services at affordable prices.
You must be able to obtain redress if EU rules are not implemented correctly. This requires better cooperation between EU countries. Court proceedings can be costly and time-consuming, especially if they're not in your home country. To encourage out-of-court settlements, the Commission has developed no-cost or low-cost ways of settling disputes.
Unfair commercial practices such as misleading advertising and aggressive selling practices like harassment, coercion and using undue influence are now illegal throughout the EU.
Many people are wary of cross-border shopping because they are uncertain of their rights and afraid of fraud. New EU rules give you the same protection from aggressive business practices and rogue traders whether buying from the shop around the corner or from a website in another EU country.
Another way in which you can seek redress is to contact the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net). Find the centre nearest you.
Published in January 2013
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series