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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 15 March 2013

EU Consumer Summit 2013: Europe joining forces to enforce consumers' rights

14 EU Ministers and State secretaries in charge of consumer affairs will join the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Tonio Borg, as well as some 450 stakeholders representing consumer and business associations, enforcement and regulatory authorities and European Consumer Centres, for a summit dedicated to the enforcement of EU consumer rights on 18-19 March 2013 in which Vice-President Reding will also participate.

This year's event will focus on how Member States can enhance their cooperation to improve efficiency and reduce costs in consumer legislation enforcement.

On the occasion of the summit, Tonio Borg said: "An impressive set of EU consumer rights exists, I want to ensure that they do not exist only on paper. Each citizen of the EU should know how to use these rights and each company should know that these rights are equally enforced throughout the EU territory. This is key to ensure a level playing field in the Single Market in the area of consumer legislation. In the current economic context, my proposal is to look at cooperation mechanisms that could permit to tackle the same infringement made in different countries only once, and not possibly 27 times!"

Why focus on enforcement?

The EU has developed a solid set of consumer rules. However, consumer complaints data collected nationally and the market performance indicators, which are published in the Consumer Market Scoreboard, point to unsatisfactory level of consumer conditions in the EU. Enforcement remains one of the most serious problems.

Ensuring that consumer legislation is effectively enforced is therefore a key priority of EU consumer policy and a pillar of the European Consumer Agenda presented in May 2012. It is also the core question of the on-going review of the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation that links national consumer authorities to form a pan-European enforcement network.

The strategic debate with the involvement of all stakeholders but also the political level on enforcement at the Summit is the first step in a process to reshape the enforcement framework of consumer rights in the EU. The European Commission will launch legal studies and start an on-line public consultation on the best options that will emerge from the Summit discussions. Results of this work will be included in the review of the Consumer Protection Regulation, which could include proposals for new legislative elements by the end of 2014.

Recommendations to increase transparency of comparison tools and green claims

During the 2013 European Consumer Summit, the result of two multi-stakeholder dialogues initiated under the European Consumer Agenda will also be presented.

  • Environmental Claims Report – The European Consumer Agenda highlighted that consumers should be supported in identifying the truly sustainable choice and that effective tools are needed to protect them against misleading environmental claims. The report from the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Environmental Claims analyses current challenges, highlights best practices and presents concrete recommendations in order to help consumers make informed green choices.

  • Comparison Tools Report - Comparison tools, such as price comparison websites and user-generated online reviews, play an increasingly important role in consumers’ decision-making. The report from the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue analyses current challenges, highlights best practices and presents concrete recommendations for improving the transparency and reliability of comparison tools for consumers.

For more information:

Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation:

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/enforcement/index_en.htm

Sweeps:

IP/12/1320

Consumer Summit 2013:

http://www.european-consumer-summit.eu/index_en.html  

Environmental Claims: Report from the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/documents/consumer-summit-2013-mdec-report_en.pdf

Comparison Tools: Report from the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/documents/consumer-summit-2013-msdct-report_en.pdf

Follow us on twitter @EU_Consumer

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)


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