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MEMO/08/151

Brussels, 10 March 2008

Questions and Answers on European Consumer Champion Awards

Why did the European Commission hold a competition for Consumer Campaign of the Year?

To mark European Consumer Day on 15 March, the Commission wanted to highlight the important work done at local and national level, as well as at European level, to promote consumer rights and improve the market conditions for EU consumers. Therefore, it decided to hold a competition for the best consumer campaigns of the year, in order to identify the organisations across the EU which succeeded in raising awareness amongst citizens of their consumer rights, or which tackled issues that threaten these rights.

A healthy market needs confident, empowered consumers, who choose, switch and complain, thereby driving innovation and pushing suppliers to perform to their best. However, in order for consumers to be empowered, they must first be informed of their rights and how to use them. Well-run, relevant and innovative public campaigns are therefore crucial in helping to equip consumers with the skills and tools to fulfil their role in the modern economy.

The competition was also a way of bringing together consumer rights champions from all of the Member States (and Norway and Iceland), thereby creating an informal network that can exchange ideas and possibly work together in the future.

How was the competition organised?

The first phase of the contest took place at national level, and was managed by the European Consumer Centres (ECCs) with the support of Commission Representations in Member States. National competitions were held to find the campaign which best fulfilled the agreed criteria (see below) and were most successful in promoting consumer rights. Member States submitted the winning national campaigns to the Commission on 1 February 2008. An independent European panel were then invited to examine the national nominations and choose the overall European winner and sub-category winners.

What criteria were used to select national and European Award winners?

Before any competitions were launched at national level, a basic set of criteria were laid down for choosing the winners. These criteria were applied in the selection processes at both national and European level, in order to ensure a level playing field for all contenders. These criteria were:

  • 1. Relevance of the campaign: The campaigns were examined to see how consistent they were with the overall EU consumer policy priorities, and in particular, whether they managed to convey the idea that consumers have clear-cut rights which they should know and use. There was broad scope for the topic and approach the campaigns could take.

Certain national winners were chosen for addressing a issues or problem which were very specific to that Member State or a particular social group. Nonetheless, if the campaigns managed to educate, inform, warn or empower consumers, then they were viable contenders for the competition.

  • 2. Effective use of resources: So as not to discriminate against smaller organisations, the judges took into account the level of resources available to the organiser of each campaign, and how effectively they were used. The final outcomes of the campaign were also assessed i.e. how many people were reached, what the tangible results were and whether the campaign brought about improvements for consumers.
  • 3. Originality and Creativity: The level of innovation and imagination used in producing the campaign was also an important factor in the selection process.

Where can the winning consumer campaigns be viewed?

All of the 27 campaigns submitted to the Commission for the competition can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecd/campaign_en.htm

What is International Consumer Day?

International Consumer Day is a day to celebrate the promotion and protection of consumer rights. It began in 1983 and since then has been held annually on 15 March. International Consumer Day focuses on the basic consumer rights of access to goods and services, safety, information, representation, redress, consumer education and a healthy environment.

http://www.consumersinternational.org/

How is Consumer Day 2008 being marked in Europe?

To celebrate International Consumer Day, this year the Commission (together with the ECCs) organised the first ever Consumer Champion Awards (see above) – a competition which is foreseen to develop and expand in scope in future years also. A public exhibition of the top national consumer campaigns, as well as an award ceremony, is organised for the afternoon of 10 March in the Galeries de la Reine (Brussels city centre). On 14 March, stakeholders will also attend a Consumer Day conference on redress at the Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.

In addition to the Brussels-based events, a number of activities have been organised at national level to celebrate Consumer Day. These include events with well-known personalities to promote consumer issues, a mobile info centres, seminars on consumer rights and educational open-days at the representations. The full list of national activities can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecd/day_activities_en.htm


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