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European Commission - Press release

Distance marketing of financial services: Commission refers Portugal to the Court of Justice

Brussels, 26 January 2012 – Today, the European Commission has decided to refer Portugal to the Court of Justice of the European Union for inadequate transposition of Directive 2002/65/EC, concerning the distance marketing of consumer financial services into its national law. Portugal has not respected the timeline for adopting amendments to its national law and thus failed to adequately protect some consumer rights.

Directive 2002/65/EC grants consumer rights in the area of distance marketing of financial services – for example, when people buy a loan online, or by phone or by mail. In particular, it provides for the right to withdraw from a contract with a service provider within 14 calendar days of its conclusion. Such a right includes the right to cancel automatically, without penalty, any other contracts with a service provider which are linked to the original contract, e.g. insurance linked to a loan.

In Portugal, consumers exercising their right of withdrawal from a service contract, concluded under Portuguese law, do not benefit from the right of the automatic cancellation of any other service contracts linked to it.

The Commission launched an infringement procedure against Portugal on 22 March 2010, on the failure to provide consumers with such a right of cancellation without penalty. In reply, Portugal has conceded that its national law does not comply with the Directive and informed the Commission of its intentions to amend it within a reasonable time period.

However, so far, Portugal has failed to adequately implement the Directive.


Unlike goods, when financial services are bought and sold over the internet or by telephone/ fax, the 'financial service', as such, is a contract between a consumer and a bank, a credit card company, an investment fund, an insurance company or another financial institution.

To boost consumer confidence in these distance marketing techniques - and in particular in internet transactions across borders - the EU adopted in 2002 a Directive laying down fundamental consumer rights:

  • An obligation to provide consumers with comprehensive information before a contract is concluded

  • The right to withdraw from the contract during a "cooling-off" period

  • A ban on abusive marketing practices, seeking to oblige consumers to buy a service they have not solicited ("inertia selling")

  • Rules to restrict other practices such as unsolicited phone calls and e-mails (i.e. "cold calling" and "spamming")

More information on consumer financial services:

More information on the infringement procedure: MEMO/12/42

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)

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