Strasbourg, 22 May 2012
Speaking points of Commissioner Dalli on the new European Consumer Agenda
I am particularly pleased to be here today, together with Vice President Reding, to present the Consumer Agenda, the Commission's strategic vision for consumer policy in the years to come.
With consumer expenditure representing 56% of EU GDP, the active participation of confident and empowered consumers to the Single Market is essential to meet the objective of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth.
We want to put EU consumers at the very heart of the Single Market, which can only be achieved through a comprehensive strategy, covering consumer interests in all relevant EU policies.
To this end, the Consumer Agenda is built around four objectives, with key principles to guide our work in the coming years, but also specific actions to be implemented before 2014.
Our first objective is to further strengthen consumer safety - the very basis of consumer policy, as demonstrated by the great interest raised by the publication of the latest report on safety of products on 8 May.
Second, we want to improve consumer information and education, in order to allow consumers navigating increasingly complex markets. We want consumers to make informed decisions that would drive policy of both supplying companies as well as regulators. Consumer organisations at national and EU level have a vital role to play here, which is not yet fully recognised.
Third, enforcement is essential to make sure that consumer rights exist in practice, but also to ensure a level playing field for business. We will work very closely with national enforcement authorities to achieve this. Access to redress, especially alternative dispute resolution, is a priority in this context.
Finally, we need to make sure that consumer rights are in line with current technological and societal developments, in particular digitalisation. And that consumer interests are fully taken on board in a number of EU policies essential for consumers:
- Financial sector; and
These sectors are among the most problematic for consumers and at the same time have a very big impact on households' budget.
Last but not least, throughout the consumer Agenda, we have tried to address key emerging challenges like the need to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption – essential in the case of food, energy or transport.
And the specific needs of vulnerable consumers. Each of us can be a vulnerable consumer at one point in time.
The report on consumer policy we publish today together with the Consumer Agenda shows that we have already done a lot to take on board consumer interests in EU policies, but we need to do more – and this is precisely what we want to achieve with the Consumer Agenda.