Green light for the European Consumer Agenda
The member states and the Commission should start implementing the European Consumer Agenda – an upgraded EU consumer policy – says the Council in its resolution adopted on 11 October. The Agenda aims to ensure that consumers have safe products and services, better information and more effective protection of their rights and redress possibilities, especially when buying products in other countries and online.
The European Consumer Agenda will reinforce consumer interests in five sectors that have been identified as most critical, namely food, transport, energy, financial and digital.
It is built around four main objectives to increase consumer confidence:
- ensure that goods, services and food are safe for consumers;
- help consumers to be better informed about the increasingly complex market and how it functions, about the choices and rights they have and how they can defend these rights;
- step up enforcement of consumer protection laws and securing efficient redress, especially online and cross-border;
- ensure that consumer rights and policies are adapted to digital environment and that they take into consideration the needs ofvulnerable consumers, such as elderly and disabled people.
The Agenda, which is the strategic vision for EU consumer policy for the years to come, will be translated into a number of legal acts as well as non-legislative activities to achieve these goals.
The Council resolution is a political document that will guide both member states and the Commission in implementing the Agenda.
The Programme will complement the member states' actions in consumer policy area. It is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which is aimed at making Europe a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020.
It will also contribute to another EU aim - to create a genuine EU single market, i.e. achieve that both consumers and businesses operate according to a single and simple set of rules across the EU.
The EU initiatives, such as the EU-wide General Product Safety network, Alternative Dispute Resolution system, the RAPEX (Rapid Alert System for non-food dangerous products) or e-Justice portal where the citizens will be able to complete small claims online are just several examples of European organisation of consumer protection.
The EU's consumer policy marks its 40th anniversary in October this year.