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EU Consumer Summit 2014: Ensuring that consumers reap the benefits of the digital economy

European Commission - IP/14/353   01/04/2014

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 1 April 2014

EU Consumer Summit 2014: Ensuring that consumers reap the benefits of the digital economy

Completing the digital single market would benefit EU consumers by on average €400 a year, some €200 billion Europe wide. The digital economy brings real benefits for consumers, but it also raises important questions about consumers’ rights online. This year’s Consumer Summit will focus on how we can ensure that consumers reap the full benefits from the digital sector.

On the occasion of the Summit the European Commissioner for Consumer Policy, Neven Mimica said: "Consumers have a lot to gain from the digital economy: better deals to be found, more content to access and cheaper ways to communicate. At present only 50% of consumers in the EU shop online. There is a clear potential for growth but we have to make sure that consumers can be as confident shopping online as they are when shopping on the high street.”

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, said: "We need to get every European consumer digital. This week's vote in the European Parliament is the first step towards achieving a true single market for telecoms, making our vision of a connected, competitive Europe a reality. It's about arming every European business with the tools and networks they need to innovate and grow, and giving every European citizen the seamless connectivity they have come to demand – without unfair practices like blocked services or roaming charges. This is a very important week for European consumers!"

This year's Summit brings together, some 400 participants representing the European Parliament, the Commission, national governments, consumer and business associations, enforcement and regulatory authorities, the European Consumer Centres and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The very first Consumer Summit that took place six years ago already focused on consumers' trust in the digital marketplace. Looking back, it is clear that the EU digital economy has undergone a rapid transformation with a significant impact on the lives consumers.

The figures speak for themselves: There are currently more than 790 million mobile phone subscriptions in Europe and the Internet is used by more than 370 million EU citizens. More than half of EU consumers have made at least one online purchase in the last twelve months and 80% of online consumers are using price comparison websites to find better deals.

The summit will focus on the urgent need for an integrated single digital and telecoms market, benefitting consumers and companies. The Commission is determined to stay close to citizens by addressing their concerns and rebuilding their trust into the Internal Market, especially in the Digital Single Market.

Making consumer policy fit for the digital era is an objective of the Commission as highlighted in the Consumer Agenda. The Commission has already started to deliver in this respect: online-dispute resolution platform, the new consumer rights directive, on-going work on comparison tools and user reviews, the strengthened focus on online enforcement, the launch of Consumer Classroom and the launch of an interactive web platform for capacity-building of consumer organisations. The Commission has also tabled ambitious proposals to update the current framework for Data protection and to complete the Telecom Single Market.

The aim of the Summit is to look at what has been achieved so far in making consumer policy fit for the digital age – including looking at national best practices - and what remains to be done to tackle emerging challenges.

Targeted workshops will be held on the following topics:

  • Connectivity” – exploring consumers’ needs for broadband connectivity in the EU in the next five years and ways to avoid a digital divide.

  • EU rights for online consumers” – identifying potential gaps in the existing regulation and ways of stepping up enforcement.

  • Online payments" – assess risks and benefits for consumers in the take-up of these payment forms, for instance in relation to the protection of personal data in payment transactions.

  • Digital literacy”   – helping consumers master the digital environment, distinguish paid or sponsored content from other content, understand and manage online tracking and online behavioural advertising.

  • Trust online” – assessing to what extent tools such as trustmarks and online consumer reviews can help increase consumer trust in e-commerce and how the trustworthiness of such tools can be ensured.

  • New and fairer deals” – improving consumer choice through digitally-enabled deals (e.g. through comparison tools).

For more information:

Consumer Summit 2014:

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

Follow us on twitter @EU_Consumer

Contacts :

David Hudson (+32 2 296 83 35)

Andreana Stankova (+32 2 295 78 57)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


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