‘Innovation’: here is the consumer view
‘Innovation’ has become a buzzword in Brussels. It certainly has a lot to do with Horizon Europe, the upcoming high-profile EU research and innovation programme. Defined as “the introduction of new ideas or methods”, innovation holds many promises for consumers. But it is a means, not an end, and it is not always beneficial. The BEUC view on innovation in the EU is detailed in a new paper titled ‘When innovation means progress’.
Innovation can certainly bring benefits. More energy-efficient products can help consumers save on their electricity bill and are good for the environment. Resealable packaging allows food to stay fresh for longer, cutting household food waste. Self-driving cars and automated household robots promise to make consumers’ lives easier.
But innovation can also come with new risks for consumers’ physical and mental health, safety, privacy and security, or for the environment or people’s jobs. Too often, innovation is equated with technological innovation, whereas other forms of innovation (such as social innovation) get less attention.
To make sure innovation serves consumers, BEUC drew up a list of tips to regulators:
- Take a risk-based approach to the way innovation is regulated
- Put consumers and societal needs first
- Make sure innovation leaves no one behind
- Engage civil society in a meaningful way
- Spend public money on public goods
- Involve consumer organisations.
Read our position in full here.
- BEUC blog, ‘How EU-funded research can deliver to consumers’, September 2019.