Brussels, 25 June 2009
Consumers' rights in consumer sales: Commission launches infringements proceedings against the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia
Today the European Commission sent letters of formal notice to the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Slovenia for inadequate transposition of Directive 1999/44/EC on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees into their national law, since it has concerns that their national laws may not be sufficient to implement the Directive.
Directive 1999/44/EC grants European consumers certain legal safeguards after a contract has been concluded with a seller for the purchase of consumer goods. Where a defect appears in a purchased good during the first two years of delivery, the seller is held liable and the consumer is entitled to obtain repair or replacement. Under certain conditions the consumer may instead obtain an appropriate reduction in price or opt for rescission of the contract. Moreover, the Directive regulates certain questions in relation to voluntary or commercial guarantees, which sellers or producers may choose to offer consumers in addition to the legal safeguards provided by the Directive.
The Commission considers that the nine Member States may have failed in their transposing national laws to sufficiently protect consumers' legal rights. For example, it would appear that, contrary to the Directive, a consumer in the Czech Republic is not protected when he orders furniture from a catalogue; or that a consumer who returns his defective MP3 player in Latvia might have to pay for the shipping charges; or that a consumer in Greece may lose all his rights vis-à-vis a seller if he fails to reject a car for apparent defects immediately upon receiving it.
The nine Member States have two months to reply to the letters of formal notice. If the observations which the national governments have been invited to present are not satisfactory, the Commission may issue reasoned opinions (second stage in infringement proceedings) and may eventually refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.