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Brussels, 14 March 2011

Consumer protection: Commission requests Belgium to comply with rules on unfair commercial practices

The European Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Belgium asking the country to comply with EU rules protecting consumers from commercial practices that could harm them. The move comes after Belgium failed to repeal national rules that do not fully comply with Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair commercial practices. These rules deal with bans on announcing price reductions during pre-sales periods and a ban on doorstep selling for products above €250. If Belgium does not comply within two months, the Commission may take this country to the Court of Justice.

EU legislation on unfair commercial practices (Directive 2005/29/EC of 11 May 2005) protects consumers from misleading and aggressive commercial practices in advertising. It also includes outright bans on a number of practices, such as falsely claiming that a product is offered for free.

The Commission asked Belgium to ensure that its national law complied with the Directive in a letter of formal notice, the first stage of EU legal action. Belgium amended some aspects of the law, but several problems remain. The Commission has therefore decided to continue the infringement proceedings against Belgium.

In the reasoned opinion adopted today, the Commission pointed out that Belgium has failed:

  • to adequately transpose the Directive by not applying it to liberal professions, such as dentists and physiotherapists;

  • to remove measures that do not comply with the Directive:

  • advertising price reductions;

  • Prohibiting the announcement of price reductions during pre-sales periods;

  • Banning doorstep selling for products above €250.

For further information:

Justice Directorate-General Newsroom:

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/162

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