EU consumers' protection to be reinforced
The EU is taking steps to boost consumer protection. Following an agreement with the European Parliament last March, the Council recently (08 November 2019) adopted a directive that modernises EU law on consumer protection and facilitates the enforcement of consumers' rights.
Anna-Maja Henriksson, Finnish minister of justice recently said:
Consumer protection is an essential part of the internal market. The Directive guarantees higher standards of protection for EU consumers when they buy products or services online. It also provides for more robust measures against unfair or misleading trade practices across the EU.
The directive provides for:
- enhanced harmonisation and streamlining of some of the criteria used to determine the level of penalties for infringements of EU consumer law;
- a right to individual remedies for consumers when they are harmed by unfair commercial practices, such as aggressive marketing;
- enhanced transparency in online transactions, in particular regarding the use of online reviews, personalised pricing based on algorithms or higher ranking of products due to ‘paid placements’;
- the obligation of online marketplaces to inform consumers on whether the responsible trader in a transaction is the seller and/or the online marketplace itself;
- the protection of consumers in respect of 'free' digital services, meaning those for which consumers do not pay money but provide personal data, such as: cloud storage, social media and email accounts;
- clear information for consumers in case of price reduction;
- the removal of disproportionate burdens, such as the obligation to use outdated means of communication, imposed on businesses by existing legislation;
- clarifications on member states' freedom to adopt rules to protect the legitimate interests of consumers with regard to some particularly aggressive or misleading marketing or selling practices in the context of off-premises sales;
- clarifications on the way misleading marketing of 'dual quality' products should be dealt with by member states.
The directive amends the unfair commercial practices directive (2005/29/EC), the consumer rights directive (2011/83/EU), the unfair contract terms directive (93/13/EEC) and the price indication directive (98/6/EC).
Following the adoption of the directive, member states will have 24 months to adopt the measures necessary for its implementation. These measures will start to apply 6 months later.
Together with a proposed directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, this directive is part of the 'New Deal for Consumers', launched by the Commission in 2017.
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