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   The  Governments of the Member States and the Commission of the  European
   Communities were represented as follows:

   Belgium:
   Mr Melchior WATHELET        Minister for Economic Affairs

   Denmark:
   Mr Jan TRØJBORG             Ministry for Industry
   Mr Christopher BO BRAMSEN   State Secretary for Industry

   Germany:
   Mr Johan EEKHOFF            State Secretary for Economic Affairs

   Greece:
   Mr Michalis LIAPIS          State Secretary for Trade

   Spain:
   Ms Maria ANGELES AMADOR     Deputy State Secretary for Health

   France
   Ms Véronique NEIERTZ        State Secretary for Consumer Affairs

   Ireland:
   Ms Mary O'ROURKE            Minister  of  State  at  the  Department   of
                               Industry    and   Commerce    with    special
                               responsibility for Trade and Marketing

   Italy:
   Mr Luigi FARACE             State Secretary for Industry

   Luxembourg:
   Mr Jean-Marc HOSCHEIT       Deputy Permanent Representative

   Netherlands:
   Mr Ate OOSTRA               Deputy Permanent Representative

   Portugal:
   Mr Carlos BORREGO           Minister  for  the  Environment  and  Natural
                               Resources

   United Kingdom:
   Baroness DENTON OF
   WAKEFIELD                   Parliamentary   Under-Secretary   of   State,
                               Department  of Trade and  Industry  (Consumer
                               Affairs)

                                    *  *  *

   Commission
   Ms Christiane SCRIVENER     Member

   UNFAIR TERMS IN CONSUMER CONTRACTS

   Further  to the common position adopted on 22 September 1992,  under  the
   co-operation procedure with the European Parliament, the Council  adopted
   in  substance  the Directive on unfair terms in  consumer  contracts.  It
   will  be formally adopted at a forthcoming meeting after the  texts  have
   been finalized.

   The Directive is aimed at approximating the laws of the Member States  on
   unfair  terms in contracts between consumers and professionals acting  in
   the course of a public or private activity, in order to provide consumers
   with a high level of protection throughout the Community.  The purpose of
   the  Directive is to preclude unfair terms and, in any even,  to  prevent
   consumers from being bound by such terms.

   According  to  the  text, a non-negotiated clause is to  be  regarded  as
   unfair  where, in spite of the requirements of good faith, it  creates  a
   significant  imbalance,  to the detriment of the  consumer,  between  the
   rights and obligations of the parties under the contract.  An indicative,
   non-exhaustive list of terms which may be declared unfair is given in the
   Annex to the Directive.

   The Directive gives consumer associations the right to ask the courts  or
   the relevant administrative bodies to remove from contracts unfair  terms
   drawn up for general use or recommended by trade associations.

   The  Directive will contribute to the establishment of the single  market
   inasmuch  as  it  will enable consumers to avail themselves  of  the  new
   opportunities  offered  by  completion  of  the  internal  market,   e.g.
   purchasing   goods  and  services  at  more  advantageous  prices  in   a
   Member State  other  than that of  residence.  By  31 December 1994,  the
   deadline  for transposing the Directive, consumers will be able  to  have
   greater trust in contractual clauses, as it will not be possible to  rely
   on standardized unfair terms against them.

   It  should  be emphasized that, in order to avoid  excessively  affecting
   certain  basic aspects of contract law in the various Member States,  the
   Directive  lays  down minimum rules concerning only  "standard"  or  non-
   negotiated   terms   and  entrusting  the  specific  treatment   of   the
   harmonization of guarantees to an individual Directive.  It goes  without
   saying  that each Member State is at liberty to offer greater  protection
   than that provided in the Directive.

   PROTECTION OF PURCHASERS OF TIMESHARE PROPERTIES

   Pending  receipt of the European Parliament's first-reading Opinion,  the
   Council  held a policy debate on the proposal for a Directive  concerning
   the protection of purchasers in contracts relating to the utilization  of
   immovable  property  on a timeshare basis. Previous  discussions  in  the
   Consumer  Affairs Council on 3 November 1992 had shown most  delegations'
   interest in such legislation.

   The  purpose  of  the proposal is to provide,  within  the  framework  of
   completion  of  the single market, greater protection for  consumers  who
   wish to conclude timeshare contracts.

   The proposal is directed towards increasing consumer protection through:

   -  improved  information  to  be  provided  on  the  terms  (rights   and
      obligations) of a contract;

   -  "withdrawal" procedures which have to be incorporated in the  contract
      and  which  the  purchaser  has the right  to  invoke  within  periods
      specified in the Directive;

   -  guarantees to be provided by the vendor,

   while  authorizing the Member States to adopt or maintain more  stringent
   measures to protect purchasers.

   The Council discussed four key issues:

   -  guarantees  and  penalties,  in particular the  extent  to  which  the
      Directive should regulate, for instance, the guarantees to be provided
      by  the vendor as to completion of the construction of  the  immovable
      property,  the  right  of the purchaser to  use  certain  services  or
      facilities, the reimbursement of advance payments and the penalties to
      be  imposed on the vendor, should he fail to provide  the  information
      prescribed by the Directive in time;

   -  advance  payments, in particular to ensure that the purchaser  is  not
      penalized for exercising his right to withdraw and that he is  charged
      only for certain clearly defined costs;

   -  right  to cancel a loan agreement, in particular arrangements so  that
      the purchaser is able to cancel a loan agreement or agreements when he
      exercises his right of withdrawal;

   -  legal protection of the consumer, in particular whether the choice  of
      the  law  applicable to timeshare contracts should  be  addressed  and
      regulated by this Directive and whether the protection provided by the
      Directive could be extended to cover contracts relating to property in
      third countries.

   Following    discussions,   the   Council   instructed   the    Permanent
   Representatives  Committee  to continue proceedings in the light  of  the
   outcome, with the aim of reaching agreement in the near future.

   FUTURE ACTION ON LABELLING

   On  the basis of a draft submitted by the Presidency on  12 January 1993,
   the Council agreed to a Resolution on action on the labelling of products
   in the interest of the consumer, the text of which is set out below:

   "THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES"

   1. Having  regard  to  the  Treaty  establishing  the  European  Economic
      Community,

   2. Whereas  it  is necessary for the effective working  of  the  internal
      market,  established since 1 January 1993, that all  involved  parties
      including  individual  consumers have confidence in the  operation  of
      that market and fully benefit from it;

   3. Whereas in its Resolution of 9 November 1989 on future priorities  for
      relaunching  consumer  protection policy (1)OJ the  Council,  in  line
      with  its  Resolutions  of 14 April 1975 and  19 May 1981,  set  as  a
      priority  inter  alia  seeking a  Community  framework  for  providing
      information on products by means of labelling;

   4. Whereas  the Council Resolution of 13 July 1992 on  future  priorities
      for  the  development of consumer protection  policy (2)OJ  underlines
      the need to secure consumer confidence in the operation of the  single
      market  and to ensure the consumer's freedom to choose from a  diverse
      range of goods and services by improved information and  transparency;
      whereas  that  Resolution calls for further measures in the  areas  of
      transparency  and  information  inter  alia  with  regard  to  further
      harmonization of labelling;

   5. Whereas various recent studies show that consumers set a high value on
      information  by labelling and a large majority consider  it  necessary
      that the same kind of information on specific products be provided  in
      all Member States;

   6. Whereas  legislation  already  adopted  by  Council  has   established
      detailed  labelling requirements for certain products while for  other
      products requirements are insufficient or even lacking;

   7. Whereas disparity of existing national legislation on labelling  risks
      creating  barriers to trade within the Community and thereby  impeding
      the operation of the internal market,

   REAFFIRMS  that  labelling  is  one important  means  to  achieve  better
   information  and transparency for the consumer and to ensure  the  smooth
   operation of the internal market.

   INVITES  the Commission in consultation with Member States and  with  the
   interested  parties  (consumers,  industry and  trade  organizations)  to
   examine the need for and merits of a Community-wide solution and, on that
   basis, to study the possibility of establishing a Community framework for
   labelling requirements.

   NOTES  that the Commission intends to take account of the result  of  its
   recent  consumer surveys, existing Community legislation and the  current
   discussion  on Commission proposals, the objective of harmonization,  the
   principles  of  subsidiarity  and  proportionality,  and  self-regulatory
   systems between consumers, industry and trade organizations in the Member
   States.

   INVITES  the  Commission to address the issues listed in  the  Annex,  to
   present its conclusions to Council as quickly as possible and to  present
   appropriate  proposals at the latest by June 1994.  In the meantime,  the
   Commission should keep the Council regularly informed of the progress  of
   its study.

   
   (1)OJ No C 294, 22.11.1989.
   (2)OJ No C 186, 23. 7.1992.

                                     Annex

                   ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE COMMISSION

   1. The  Commission should give consideration to the fact  that  labelling
      ought in particular to be:

   -  comprehensible, i.e. legible and easy for the consumer to understand;
   -  distinctive,  i.e.  make  the necessary  distinction  between  product
      labelling,  on  the one hand, and other  information  and  advertising
      given on the product, on the other;
   -  relevant,  i.e. not be misleading and contain  sufficient  information
      enabling   consumers  to  make  purchasing  decisions  based  on   the
      information they find important regarding a particular product;
   -  transparent,  i.e.  enabling consumers to compare  different  products
      within the same group of products in relation to quality and price;
   -  verifiable,  i.e.  subject  to appropriate  supervision  according  to
      national  legislation  or  practices,  in order  to  ensure  that  the
      labelling complies with the agreed requirements;
   -  practical,  i.e.  easy  for  manufacturers,  supervisory  bodies   and
      retailers to use.

   2. The Commission should examine labelling requirements for all  consumer
      products, taking due account of products already covered by  Community
      legislation  and taking advantage of the experience gained  from  that
      legislation.  In  this context the Commission should also examine  the
      role of standardization at Community level.

      The Commission should also consider the need to include guarantees and
      after-sales service.

   3. The   Commission   should   examine   whether   Community    labelling
      requirements:

   -  should  follow  a  horizontal, vertical  or  combined  horizontal  and
      vertical approach;
   -  should   aim   at  minimum  provisions  only  or  provide   for   full
      harmonization;
   -  would  be  more  appropriate  and efficient  as  compulsory  or  as  a
      voluntary scheme;
   -  should be based on a modular, integrated system."

    COMMUNITY SYSTEM OF INFORMATION ON HOME AND LEISURE ACCIDENTS (EHLASS)

   The  Council  held  a  policy  debate  on  the  basis  of  a   Commission
   communication  and  a  proposal for a Decision  introducing  a  Community
   system of information on home and leisure accidents.

   It   will   be   recalled  that  Decision 86/138/EEC,   as   amended   by
   Decision 90/534/EEC,  established until 1 December 1991  a  demonstration
   project  relating to a system for the collection of information  on  home
   and  leisure accidents (EHLASS).  Following an evaluation of  the  second
   stage  of  that  demonstration  project,  the  Commission   communication
   concludes  that  a Community system of information on  home  and  leisure
   accidents  would  be  useful, chiefly for the  Member  States,  and  that
   Community support should be provided.

   At  the  close  of  the discussion, during  which  a  large  majority  of
   delegations  spoke in favour of extending the system for five years,  the
   Council  instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee  to  continue
   proceedings,  particularly  in  the light of  the  European  Parliament's
   Opinion, with the aim of reaching agreement rapidly.

   COMMUNITY  SYSTEM FOR THE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION IN RESPECT  OF  CERTAIN
   PRODUCTS WHICH MAY JEOPARDIZE CONSUMERS' HEALTH OR SAFETY

   Pending receipt of the European Parliament's Opinion, the Council held  a
   policy  debate on the proposal for a Decision concerning the  institution
   of  a  Community  system for the exchange of information  in  respect  of
   certain products which may jeopardize consumers' health or safety.

   The  proposal is concerned with the exchange of information  on  products
   which do not comply with the Community or national legislation applicable
   to them and which may jeopardize consumers' health or safety, albeit  not
   presenting  a serious and immediate risk.  Measures taken by  the  Member
   States  in respect of products which do present a serious  and  immediate
   risk are covered by the system for the rapid exchange of information  set
   up under Directive 89/45/EEC.

   The proposal, which comes within the context of the internal market,  was
   designed to bring forward in part the implementation of the  exchange-of-
   information  aspect  referred to in Article 7 of  Directive 92/59/EEC  on
   general  product  safety,  as the provisions of that  Directive  are  not
   applicable until 29 June 1994.

   Discussions  showed  there  to be a favourable  inclination  towards  the
   Decision in principle.

   The Council therefore instructed the Permanent Representatives  Committee
   to press ahead with preparation of the text, in the light of the European
   Parliament's Opinion in particular.

   ACTION PLAN OF CONSUMER POLICY (1990-1992)

   The   Council   took  note  of  a  Commission  oral  statement   on   the
   implementation  of the action plan of consumer policy (1990-1992) and  on
   future priorities.

   COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING

   The  Commission  reported  on progress  with  re-examination,  under  the
   principle  of  subsidiarity, of the proposal for a  Directive  concerning
   comparative  advertising and amending Directive 84/450/EEC on  misleading
   advertising.

   MISCELLANEOUS DECISIONS

   EEC-Baltic Republics Fisheries Agreements

   The  Council adopted the Regulations on the conclusion of  the  Fisheries
   Agreements  between the Community and the Baltic Republics of  Lithuania,
   Latvia and Estonia.

   The  Agreements  provide  essentially  for the  exchange  of  quotas  and
   reciprocal access to the Contracting Parties' fishing zones in the Baltic
   Sea.

   In  this connection the Parties undertake to co-operate with one  another
   and  within the appropriate international fora, in particular within  the
   International  Baltic Sea Fishery Commission, to ensure the  conservation
   and rational management of the fish stocks in question.

   The  Agreements also make provision for possible financial  contributions
   to certain training schemes or to promote the formation of joint ventures
   between partners from the Baltic Republics and from the Community.

   The  texts of the Agreements, concluded for an initial  ten-year  period,
   correspond  to  those initialled by the Commission with the  Republic  of
   Lithuania  on 14 July 1992, with the Republic of Latvia  on  16 July 1992
   and  with the Republic of Estonia on 17 July 1992 in accordance with  the
   Council's negotiating directives of 7 June 1992.

   The European Parliament delivered its Opinions on 12 February 1993.
   Appointments

   The Council appointed as members of the Economic and Social Committee:

   -  Mr Georgios RAFTOPOULOS, in place of Mr Lambros KANELLOPOULOS,
   -  Mr Jean GAUTIER, in place of Mr François CEYRAC, for the remainder  of
      the terms of office, which run until 20 September 1994.

                                     * * *

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