Brussels, 10 June 2005
Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, attended the official opening of the European Consumer Centre in Nicosia, Cyprus, today. The Centre forms part of the EU-wide network set up to inform citizens of their rights as consumers in Europe and assist them should they encounter problems when shopping across borders. There are currently 23 Consumer Centres across Europe with new centres recently opened in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. Centres will be established in the remaining New Member States by 2006.
Commissioner Kyprianou said: “Access to the Internal Market and the consumer protection measures that accompany it are among the great benefits of being an EU citizen. However, European consumers can only really take advantage of these rights once they are fully aware of them and confident that they will be protected and enforced effectively. The European Consumer Centre Network is a tool with which to achieve this. By ensuring that clear and accessible information is available when needed, and that citizens’ rights are observed, the Consumer Centres will contribute to strong consumer confidence which in turn can lead to a more competitive economy.”
European legislation provides a high level of protection for the EU consumer and conveys many purchasers’ rights. However, citizens need to be aware of these laws and entitlements in order to benefit from them or to seek redress when they are violated. The European Consumer Centres serve as a “one stop shop” for citizens. They provide information on consumers’ rights, assist consumers with their complaints and provide access to out-of-court settlements. They also give the Commission feed-back on consumer problems and issues, compile comparative data on prices and legislation in Member States and co-operate with other EU networks such as the Financial Network (FIN-NET), SOLVIT and the European Judicial Network on civil and commercial matters.
The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) was established in January 2005, and is co-funded by the European Commission and Member States. It is the result of the merger of the long standing “Euroguichets”, which supplied information and support on cross-border issues, and the more recent European Extra-Judicial Network, which helped citizens seek redress through alternative means of dispute resolution. The aim in creating the ECC-Net was to simplify the process for consumers of obtaining information and assistance, by creating a single point of contact in each Member State.
Since the end of March 2005, European Consumer Centres have been created in five of the New Member States: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. The Latvian centre will open during the summer. This brings the total number of Centres in the EU to 21, with another 2 operating in Norway and Iceland, and 4 more due to open in the remaining Member States in 2006.
More information on the ECC-Net, and a full list of the centres, see: