22 March 2019
The EU has struck a deal that should see consumers better protected when a company breaks the law.
01 March 2019
Representatives of EU Member States have reached a position that more needs to be done to protect consumers from companies that break consumer law, particularly by strengthening the penalties national authorities can impose.
20 February 2019
A European Parliament that improves consumers’ lives has a strong hand of cards to build a better relationship with people across the EU. Mindful of digitalisation, the climate crisis and globalisation, BEUC’s new European Parliament elections manifesto urges future co-legislators to respond to the EU’s challenges through consumer policy.
Consumer Rights & Enforcement Topics
Our work areas
Planned changes to the body of EU consumer rights, which started nearly 10 years ago, are still incomplete. It is important that consumers have clear rules to protect them in case a product is defective or not up to standard. We want to ensure these new rules provide a high level of consumer protection.
In December 2015 the Commission proposed to modify rules on the online sale of digital content and of tangible goods. For the online sale of digital content, consumers should be allowed to fully exploit the potential of e-commerce with legal certainty.
We remain sceptical as to the rules for tangible goods bought online, which would lower the standard of consumer protection in many Member States. We also want to make sure consumer rights are the same regardless of whether the purchase is made online or offline.
The Commission is currently carrying out a fitness check (which it calls REFIT) for EU law that covers important consumer rights, such as being protected against unfair terms and practices and having remedies when a product is faulty. These rights must be protected by proper enforcement and redress mechanisms. BEUC is a member of the REFIT consultative group to the Commission and is working to ensure consumer rights are upheld and not watered down.
We also try to ensure that legislation on unfair commercial practices and consumer information requirements are applied more coherently and are better enforced.
There is a need to update EU product liability law so that it extends to digital content products and services. The update should also cover compensation and safety provisions.
In relation to transport, we work on air passengers’ rights and package travel law. The transport sector tops consumer complaints in the EU and so we aim to have passenger rights improved and better enforced.
Redress and enforcement
Besides our efforts to improve laws, their enforcement and providing redress when they are breached are also focal points of our work. National enforcement authorities need adequate powers to investigate and stop infringements, while they should cooperate among themselves and with consumer associations to ensure coherent enforcement of consumer rights throughout the EU.
If consumers are harmed, various redress tools, including independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and effective Collective Redress procedures, should be available for consumers to obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. Our work has recently expanded to cover EU competition policy where the EU can take action against monopolies in the market which harm consumer choice.
- Continue to update and modernise EU consumer law as society becomes increasingly digitalised:
- Meet challenges of consumer protection by strengthening consumer rights, such as the rights to receive correct information, to not be misled, to be protected against unfair terms and unfair practices, or to have remedies available in case of faulty goods
- Consumers should have effective remedies available if traders breach EU consumer law
- EU air passenger rights legislation improved and completed. Legislation must be better enforced to ensure the difficulties consumers face when travelling by air are reduced
- Defend the consumer voice during the EU’s fitness check of consumer law (REFIT)
- Make sure consumers are protected when it comes to who is liable for a defective product
- Collective Redress procedures have to be available and efficient in all Member States
- Consumers being able to rely on independent ADR bodies, available in all sectors with common adherence of business
- Enforcement stepped up throughout the EU
- Encouraging the EU to continue to be a strong player in competition policy