"Growth in the European
Union needs both competitive supply and strong demand. Consumers
therefore must be as much centre stage of EU policies as businesses. We
need confident consumers to drive forward the European economy", said Viviane
Reding, Commission Vice-President and the EU's Justice Commissioner.
"We want to stimulate cross-border shopping online, and this is why the
EU and its Member States need to bring consumer rights into the digital
age. We have taken first steps with the Consumer Rights Directive and
with the proposal for modernised data protection rules to boost consumer
confidence online. As a next step, the Commission plans to modernise
the EU's package travel rules of 1990 to take into account that more and
more people now book their holidays on the web. However, it takes more
than new laws to make the digital single market work for consumers.
Member States need to step up the swift and non-bureaucratic
implementation of EU rules so that consumer rights become a concrete
reality for our 500 million consumers. "
"In the current
economic context a strong consumer policy is a necessity. Empowering
Europe's 500 million consumers will be a key contribution to growth in
the European economy," said Health and Consumer policy Commissioner John Dalli.
"The strategy adopted today aims to empower consumers and build their
confidence by giving them the tools to participate actively in the
market, to make it work for them, to exercise their power of choice and
to have their rights properly enforced. We will do so for instance by
revising the EU framework for ensuring that products and food on the
Single Market are safe, by stepping up enforcement of EU consumer laws
in close cooperation with national authorities, by providing more
support to consumers shopping cross-border through the European Consumer
Centres, and by ensuring that consumer interests are more
systematically integrated into EU policies of key economic importance
European consumers enjoy some of the strongest consumer rights and protection
in the world whether
protecting them from unsafe products, misleading advertising,
unpredictable roaming costs or dubious practices online, or supporting
them when things go wrong. The proposals for Alternative Dispute
Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution (ADR/ODR) currently on the table will enable them to solve problems quickly, easily and
at low cost. Another example is the European Small Claims Procedure which simplifies, speeds up and reduces the cost of litigation in cross-border
cases for claims up to €2000. As of 2013 via the e-Justice portal consumers will be able to complete the small claims forms online in any
official language simplifying saving them further time and efforts.
While the EU has a substantial corpus of consumer law and the consumer dimension
is an important part of many EU policies, a comprehensive framework is needed
which also addresses imminent challenges
such as those linked to the digitalisation of daily life, the desire to
move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption, and the specific
needs of vulnerable consumers.
Four main objectives
The Consumer Agenda presents measures designed to achieve the objectives of the
EU's growth strategy, Europe 2020. It builds on and complements other initiatives
such as the EU Citizenship Report (see IP/10/1390 and MEMO/10/525), the Single Market Act, the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200) and the Resources Efficiency Roadmap (see IP/11/1046). To this end, it is built around four main objectives designed to increase
Reinforcing consumer safety: for goods, services and food, strengthening the
regulatory framework and making market surveillance more efficient.
to cope with the increasing complexity of markets, where consumers need
the right tools and information to understand everything from the real
cost of consumer credit to finding the right place to complain. This is
important for both consumers and traders, and the role of consumer
organisations is key.
Improving enforcement and securing redress,
without which rights cannot exist in practice. This is all the more
relevant given that the detriment suffered by European consumers
incurred from problems causing complaint is estimated at about 0.4 % of
EU GDP. The role of consumer enforcement networks is central.
Aligning policy to societal change and making it relevant to daily life:
to adapt consumer law to the digital age and tackle problems consumers
face online; to factor in the needs of vulnerable consumers; to make
sustainable choices easy
Five key sectors
The Agenda supports consumer interests in key sectors.
Food: to ensure sustainability and safety.
Energy: so that consumers can get the best value for money in the liberalised
market and better manage their energy consumption.
Financial: to protect consumers' financial interests and give them the tools
to manage their finances.
Transport: to adapt legislation to modern patterns of travel and to support sustainable
Digital: with a view to tackling problems faced by consumers and ensuring their
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