Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv
The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. – vzbv) is the umbrella organisation for 40 consumer organisations throughout Germany: the consumer associations (Verbraucherzentralen) of each of Germany’s 16 federal states and 24 consumer policy organisations. vzbv represents the interests of German consumers vis-à-vis policymakers, the private sector and in public. vzbv is also a founding member of BEUC. vzbv’s headquarters are in Berlin and has a liaison office in Brussels since 2012. vzbv gets its funding from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, as well as from project grants and membership fees.
- Digital World, Financial Services, Energy: Through its “Market Watch” (Marktwächter) projects, vzbv and all 16 consumer advice centres observe and analyse German markets in order to identify problems early on and to be able to draw the attention to undesirable developments. The “Market Watch” projects for the digital world and for financial markets started in 2015. In 2017, vzbv has started to establish the third “Market Watch” for energy. All projects are funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. www.marktwaechter.de
- Food: The website www.lebensmittelklarheit.de (‘Food Transparency’) provides information about food labelling. The project checks reports by consumers about misleading food labelling and takes actions against manufacturers. ‘Lebensmittelklarheit’ is a joint project by vzbv and the consumer association of Hesse. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
- Collective enforcement of consumer rights: vzbv is listed as a qualified organisation to bring cases of breaches of consumer law to court (injunction). Every year, vzbv starts between 200 and 300 actions with cease and desist letters or takes cases to court. The organisation is also not afraid to confront big players and has already won cases against WhatsApp and Facebook.
- Founded in 2000 as a result of the merger of three consumer organisations: Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Verbraucherverbände (AgV) founded in 1953, Verbraucherschutzverein (VSV), founded in 1966, and Verbraucherinstitut (VI), founded in 1978.
- Members in 2017: 40 (16 Consumer Centres with 190 advice centres, 24 consumer oriented organisations) and 9 supporting members.
- Founding member of BEUC
- Around 200 staff in 2017
- Executive Director: Klaus Müller, since 2014