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  3. 3. Consumer protection policy • The EU has put in place rules that guarantee fair treatment, products that meet acceptable standards, and a right of redress if something goes wrong. • EUROPEAN COMMISSION • European Commission is the commission in which group of politician’s men and women who meet every Wednesday. These commissioners are meeting in Brussels. They each have their own field responsibilities and come from different countries. Their role is to defend general interest of EU. These commissioners are driving force of EU and their main role is proposing EU legislation. They influence everything. The phone tariff (reduced rates), the airports or railway (finance by EU commission), the coffee you drink on the way is also a task by EU international trade and many others. These all is possible due to the Treaties carried out by EU Commission.
  4. 4. Stages of integration • 1. Free trade areas - Zero tariffs between member countries and reduced non-tariff barriers • 2. Customs unions - FTA to common external tariff • 3. Common markets - CU to free movement of capital and labor, some policy harmonization • 4. Economic and monetary union - CM to common economic policies and institutions • 5. Political union - Coordinate aspects of members’ economic and political systems
  5. 5. PurposesofIntegration 1. Promote peace, its values, and the well-being of its citizens 2. Offer freedom, security, and justice without internal borders, while also taking appropriate measures at its external borders to regulate asylum and immigration and prevent and combat crime 3. Establish an internal market 4. Achieve sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability and a highly competitive market economy with full employment and social progress 5. Protect and improve the quality of the environment 6. Promote scientific and technological progress 7. Combat social exclusion and discrimination 8. Promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, and protection of the rights of the child
  6. 6. 9. Enhance economic, social, and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries 10. Respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity 11. Establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro 12. Promote inclusion and combat discrimination, 13. Break down barriers to trade and borders, 14. Encourage technological and scientific developments, 15. Champion environmental protection, 16. Promote goals like a competitive global market and social progress.
  7. 7. CONSUMERPROTECTIONLAWSBYTHEEUROPEANCOMMISION • There are six ways that the law used by the European Commission to protect rights of consumers around the EU, these include; I. Consumer Contract Law II. Unfair Commercial Practices Law III. Travel and Timeshare Law IV. Creation of the Consumer Protection cooperation Regulations V. Establishment of the Injunctions and Representative Actions Directives VI. Reviewing of the European Consumer Laws
  8. 8. • 1. CONSUMER CONTRACT LAW • These are laws that have been put in place by European Union member states in order to deal with contractual issues between consumers and suppliers of goods and services. These issues include but are not limited to matters of Contract withdrawal, legal guarantee and unfair and unjust contractual terms favouring the suppliers. Therefore, with respect to consumer contractual matters, three directives have been established by the European Commission
  9. 9. TheConsumerRightsDirective • In 2013 (Later amended on 27th November 2019), The European Commission, hereinafter referred to as the commission, established the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD). The main aim of the said directive was to ensure that consumers all around the European Union all had the same minimum level of rights when carrying out trader-consumer transactions no matter where the trade was taking place. It creates an alignment between national consumer rules with regards to matters such as information dissemination before acquisition of goods and services and also rights to cancel online purchases. Additionally in 2021, the commission further adopted a Commission Notice to aid in the interpretation and application of the said consumer rights directive. It was created so as to ensure proper application of the directive and to increase awareness of the said directive amongst all affected parties
  10. 10. Unfair ContractTerms Directive • The directive, which was established in 1993 and later amended in 2019, was established so as to protect consumers against unfair contractual terms that may be imposed by traders. The directive is applicable to all kinds of contracts involving purchase of goods and services, these include gym subscriptions and even online purchases.
  11. 11. Contents of the Directive • It contains standard contractual terms to be used by member states of the commission. The said terms facilitate commercial transactions and are useful in setting out contractual rights and obligations. Some of the standard terms include the fact that a contract ought to be individually negotiated, this aids in reducing or eliminating unfairness in contract. Individual negation means that the contractual terms ought not to be negotiated in advance and ought to be done in the presence of all the negotiating parties • This directive, in Article 6, also confirms the fact that contracts formed under unfair terms are not binding but if the contract can still exist without the said unfair terms, then it continues to be binding. This goes in accordance with the general law of contracts
  12. 12. Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive • It was established in January 2022 and was created to replace the consumer sales and guarantees directive. Its main purpose according to Article 1 is to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market while providing for a high level of consumer protection. This is done through laying down common rules on certain requirements that concern contracts between consumers and traders in digital services
  13. 13. Contents of the directive • The conformity of digital content and digital services with a contract- Article 6 states that traders ought to supply to consumers digital content or digital services that meet the requirements set in place by articles 7 to 9 of the said Directives • Remedies incase of lack of the said conformity are also provided for in article 14 of the directives
  14. 14. UNFAIR COMMERCIALPRACTICES LAW • The main directives that have been put in place are the Unfair Commercial Practices directive and the Price Indication Directive • 1) Unfair Commercial Practices Directive • They were established in 2005 and are aimed at ensuring that consumers are protected from unfair practices before, during and after a commercial transaction. The said directives aid in boosting consumer confidence and make it easier for businesses to trade across borders. The act prohibits unfair practices such as false description of goods and used of aggressive marketing techniques that influence one to make a particular choice during acquisition of a product
  15. 15. TRAVELAND TIMESHARE LAWS • These are consumer laws enacted by the European Commission to deal with matters involving Package Travelling and timeshare contracts. Under this category of laws the main directives that have been put in place are, Package Travel Directive, and the Timeshare directive • Package Travel Directive • It was enacted in November 2019 and its main aim according to article 1 is to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market and the highest level of consumer protection by creation of laws with regards to package travel and linked travel. It contains rules covering pre-arranged package holidays and self-customised packages. The rules also cover packages where the traveller books the flight and accommodation location on different websites.
  16. 16. Timeshare Directive • This directive was enacted in January 2009 and its main purpose is to achieve a high level of consumer protection by approximating laws regulations and administrative provisions of the member states in respect of certain aspects of sale, resale and marketing of timeshares and other long term holiday products • Contents of the Directive • Article 4 contains the pre-contractual information that consumers ought to be issued with before signing any agreement. This information is contained in the various annexes to the Directive i.eAnnex one contains the information to be issued in case one wants to execute a timeshare contract and Annex II has the relevant information for a long-term holiday Product Contract. Article 3 states that during advertising, the possibility of obtaining the said information also ought to be specified and the advert also ought to contain details on where the information can be obtained
  17. 17. REVIEW OFEU CONSUMER LAW • European consumer law is one of the parts of European law where the citizens of the European Union may experience the positive consequences of European integration themselves. This is in part the reason why consumer law is in the renewed attention of the European Commission • Fitness Check of EU consumer law on digital fairness • The digital transformation is radically changing consumers’ lives, providing them with more opportunities and a wider choice of both goods and services. In 2022, Fitness Check of EU consumer law on digital fairness was launched as additional legislation to ensure equal fairness online and offline. The fitness check will evaluate the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Consumer Rights Directive and Unfair Contract Terms Directive. These Directives deals with consumer protection issues such as consumer vulnerabilities, dark patterns, personalization practices, influencer marketing, contract cancellations, subscription service contracts, marketing of virtual items and the addictive use of digital products.
  18. 18. • New Deal for Consumers • The “New Deal for Consumers” initiative aims at strengthening enforcement of EU consumer law in light of a growing risk of EU-wide infringements and modernising consumer protection rules in view of market developments. Two EU instruments have been adopted following this initiative and Member States will have until Dec 2022 to transpose the Directive into their national legal orders 1. -The Directive on better enforcement and modernization of EU consumer protection(2019) 2. -The Directive on Representative Actions(2020)
  19. 19. • The fitness check evaluates whether the existing directives would benefit from any targeted strengthening or streamlining, while taking into account other relevant legislation in the digital area and ensuring coherence. • The European Commission used its 2nd Annual Digital Consumer Event in Nov 2022 to discuss with academics, consumer and business associations and authorities about problems consumers currently face in the digital transition and whether the EU rules in place are effective. • Guidance on the Application of EU Consumer Directives • The European Commission has adopted four Notices providing guidance on the application of the following EU consumer directives:
  20. 20. International cooperation on product safety • Bilateral Co-operations • Generally, the European Union maintains direct relationships with its main international partners; Canada, USA, Japan and China. To this effect, it works closely with these countries to spread intel on unsafe products, interrelate standardization exertions and ensure awareness by the manufacturers of product safety requirements. In recognition of the different cultures, beliefs and aspirations between the aforementioned countries, the commission allows tailor made legislations, by the countries, that allow flexibility and a sense of ownership, provided that these legislations are in accordance with the provisions of the European commission rules on international product safety on consumer protection. • The impact of these rules on EU consumers are as follows:
  21. 21. 1. China • China is one of the biggest exporters of consumer products in the European market , hence one of the main international partners of the European Union Commision. To guide product safety, the European Commision in conjunction with China established a memorandum of understanding, in 2006, between the commission and the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China(GACC), that was mainly tasked with controlling customs, revenue collection and fighting against smuggling. This memorandum, has a plethora of effects on product safety on consumer protection, namely; 1. It has ensured that import and export goods are of good quality and safe for consumption as it is mandated with supervision, management and inspection of food and cosmetics. 2. It has led to the reduction of smuggled goods and rules violations when importing or exporting goods as it deals with the arrest and investigation of criminal cases under their jurisdiction.
  22. 22. 3. In order to achieve safety for consumers, the European commission and China cooperate , within the regulations of China and EU to ensure that they exchange information on unsafe products, emanating from the jurisdiction of the other side such as the product details, the measures taken, the probable risk and significant emerging health issues. In turn, this has enabled consumers to access safe and risk-free products. 4. It has led to prevention of exportation of hazardous products to the European Union, since GACC has been tasked with investigating and taking up measures to prevent export of hazardous products to the European Union ibid
  23. 23. 2. Canada • The EU and Canada formulated the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to ensure competition between the parties in the domain of non-food product safety. • Both the EU and Canada have entered into an administrative arrangement that mandates both parties to develop an automated exchange of information concerning dangerous non- food products consumed in the EU.The information exchanged includes both public and private information and the measures to be taken by both parties. As a result of this cooperation, product consumers have been shielded from dangerous non-food products that would have otherwise harmed them had the cooperation been non-existent. • Both parties have worked hand in hand to come up with awareness raising initiatives. As an example, between the period of 2019 and 2021, several communication campaigns touching on various products, such as toys and button batteries ,were done by both parties in their respective regions. As a result, consumers in the EU have become educated on the various adverse effects posed by products present within their jurisdictions. Bilateral Cooperation’ (European Commission - European Commission) • Global Affairs Canada, ‘Administrative Arrangement (AA) between the Department of Health of Canada and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers on the Exchange of Information on the Safety of Non-Food Consumer Products’ (GAC, 12 June 2019)
  24. 24. • Trilateral cooperation • In 2008,the United States of America, China and the European Union joined hands in pursuit of strengthening non-food consumer product safety and protecting the end consumers.This led to improved information sharing and regulatory cooperation among the tripartite participants.This in turn led to the highest levels of consumer product safety.
  25. 25. Multilateral cooperation • EU cooperates with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation (ICPHSO). • UNCTAD • EU and UCTAD jointly organize workshops to support least developed countries wishing to strengthen their product safety frameworks. • OECD • EU and OECD provide a forum where governments seek answers to common product safety challenges, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies.EU has also participated in many OECD global awareness campaigns. • <https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/consumers_en> accessed 3rd December,2022 • Joint EC-UNCTAD workshop: kick-starting consumer product safety:a worthwhile endeavor, International Product Safety Week 2020
  26. 26. CONSUMERPROTECTIONIN FINANCIALSERVICES • It entails Consumer credit rights, the Standard European Consumer Credit Information form, creditworthiness assessment, debt advice, and distance marketing of financial services. • The concerned directive with regard to this topic is the new proposal for a Directive on consumer credits and the Reviewed of the Consumer Credit Directive (2008/48/EC), 2021. • What is a directive? It is a legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU countries must achieve. However, it is up to the individual countries to devise their own laws on how to reach these goals. Therefore, it is binding to the result being achieved but the member states have the discretion as to how they achieve the result.
  27. 27. • As part of its EU consumer policy revision, the Commission undertook a review of the Consumer Credit Directive (2008/48/EC). The Consumer Credit Directive (2008/48/EC) established a harmonized EU framework for consumer credit, to facilitate the emergence of a smoothly functioning internal market in consumer credit and provide a high level of consumer protection in order to ensure consumer confidence. • Several challenges were highlighted hindering its functioning, in particular in terms of scope, information provision, and creditworthiness assessment. • Consequently, a proposal was published for a Directive on consumer credits repealing and replacing the Consumer Credit Directive (2008/48/EC).
  28. 28. A. Credit rights B. Consumer credit information C. Creditworthiness assessment: principles and mapping D. Over-indebtedness and Debt Advice E. Distance Marketing of financial services F. Behavioral Study on digitalization
  29. 29. PRODUCT SAFETY • A. Safety Gate: The EU Rapid Alert System For Dangerous Non-food Products • This enables quick exchange of information between EU member states and the European commission about dangerous non-food products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers. • B. Product Safety and Market Surveillance The role of market surveillance authorities • Market surveillance is the activity carried out by authorities to ensure that products on the market conform to the applicable laws and regulations and comply with the existing EU health and safety requirements. • It also helps to maintain a level playing field to these companies that comply and thus avoid losing market share to rogue traders.
  30. 30. • Marketing surveillance covers a full range of actions, including the monitoring and control of the market and, where necessary the imposition of corrective measures and penalties. • In the EU, the national market surveillance authorities are responsible for carrying out market surveillance. • They are also responsible for taking the appropriate measures in case they find a dangerous product. Co-ordinated activities • The European Commission finances co-ordinated activities between member states market surveillance authorities • They allow joint testing activities and the exchange of best practices on market surveillance with the aim to keep the market safe. • The co-ordinated activities on the safety of products are built around annual programs and include: • a)Product related activities(tests of samples and assessment of risk identified through such testing). • b)Horizontal activities on common priorities(aimed at sharing knowledge, exchanging best practices and finding common approaches)
  31. 31. Reporting measures to safety gate • When national authorities find unsafe products, they impose measures or order the concerned economic operators to take action, in order to avoid that these products remain on the market and cause accidents. • Depending on the risk identified, products can be rejected already at the borders by customs, a sales ban can be imposed or warning messages can be circulated. • If the product is already in the hands of consumers, recall actions can be requested. • Businesses themselves also must take the necessary initiatives to ensure that they only place safe products on the market and inform authorities if they encounter issues. • All these measures are reported on Safety Gate which allows the quick dissemination of the information to all national authorities in the system, so they can easily trace the dangerous products and take measures in their own countries to ensure that the European market remains safe.
  32. 32. 3.The General Product Safety Directive • Under the directive a product is safe if it meets all statutory safety requirements under European and national law. • If there are no regulations or EU standards referenced in the official Journal of the European Union, the product’s compliance is determined according to other reference documents such as the European standards, national or international standards, commission recommendations or codes of practice. • The responsibilities of businesses include informing consumers of any risks associated with the products they supply and make sure any dangerous products present on the market can be traced so they can be removed to avoid any risk to consumers. • The responsibilities of national authorities include checking whether products available on the market are safe, ensure product safety legislation and rules are applied by manufacturers and business chains and to apply sanctions when necessary.
  33. 33. 4. Standards and risks for specific products • Standards are technical specifications defining requirements for products, production processes, services or test-methods. • They are developed by industry and market actors following some basic principles such as consensus, openness, transparency and non-discrimination. • Standards ensure interoperability and safety, reduce costs and facilitate companies' integration in the value chain and trade. • European Standards are under the responsibility of the European Standardisation Organisations. • This is done through: Emergency measures • Under certain conditions, if a product poses a serious risk which should be disseminated with urgency to all authorities, the national authority concerned can contact the European Commission team to speed up the publication of the alert on Safety Gate.
  34. 34. Dangerous chemicals in products • Examples of such products include: Textiles, Toys, cosmetics • Children of less than one year tend to mouth toys all the time. These toys may have chemicals in them thereby posing adverse health risks. • The European Commission therefore undertakes measures to limit such risks. • This is done by conducting extensive scientific research, running risk impact assessments on such chemicals, public collaboration and consultation with state parties and international bodies and finally sharing the collected information with the public. Child safety • Some children's products are protected by standards: baby carriers, changing units, safety barriers etc. However, some products, even if not intended specifically for children, may be mistaken for a toy and pose a risk to them. • The European Commission therefore makes sure children are protected. An example is products that look like food which can be harmful to children. The Commission therefore gives directives that prohibits the production, import and marketing of non-edible products that look like foodstuffs, such as soaps, candles and other decorative articles.
  35. 35. • Information campaigns • The European Commission has organised Information campaigns. Through these campaigns, the Commission has sensitised the public on their consumer rights. • It has also collaborated with other international agencies such as the OECD in spreading such awareness. (5) International Cooperation on Product Safety • The EU works with other countries to share information on unsafe products, coordinate standardisation efforts and promote awareness of product safety. This has been done through: International Product Safety week • Every two years, the European Commission organises an international event to discuss product safety related issues with stakeholders from all over the world. The event provides an excellent opportunity for discussion among a broad range of stakeholders, including national authorities, international regulators, consumer organisations, industry, standard- makers, test laboratories, academics, lawyers and other product safety experts.
  36. 36. • 6. Product Safety Pledge • The Pledge is a voluntary commitment, which contributes to the faster removal of dangerous non-food consumer products offered for sale online and sets out actions by online marketplaces to strengthen product safety, such as providing a clear way for customers to notify dangerous product listings.
  37. 37. Energy Supply and Policy Information • The EU has legislations set to ensure consumer rights are protected and that they are not exploited in any manner. All EU citizens enjoy general rights guaranteed in EU legislation. Energy consumer rights have to be clearly set out in the national laws of EU countries and must reflect provisions in EU legislation. • The national legislation must for instance, guarantee consumers the right to: 1. An electricity connection 2. Network supplied with electricity 3. A choice of electricity and gas suppliers as well as easy and fast switch of suppliers, without extra charges. 4. Clear contract information 5. Correct information on the consumption and billing on it.
  38. 38. • With the EU market being integrated, cost-effectiveness is enhanced in terms of ensuring a secure and affordable energy supply to EU members. Energy can be produced from a single state unit and be freely supplied to other member states where there is high demand because of the laid down market rules which are common to all members. To ensure constant and adequate supply, prices are kept in check by creating a fair competition as well as allowing consumers choose their own supply. • Technology on the other hand keeps evolving and new innovations are experienced every single day. Therefore, electricity market rules ought to be constantly updated to match the current situation. Electricity for instance, must be delivered in sufficient quantities, in absence of natural sources. Therefore, markets should be improved to meet the need of renewable energies and attract investment in their resources. Additionally, they should be able to ensure consumers are more active and make electricity system stable.
  39. 39. • The following regulations among others were therefore adopted in 2019 to address the issues: 1. The Electricity Directive and Electricity Regulation 2. Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)
  40. 40. . TRANSPORT EMISSIONS • Transportation is the largest contributor to urban air pollution, accounting for approximately a quarter of all European greenhouse gas emissions. In a bid to address this, the EU enacted the European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility whose key elements include, inter alia: 1. Increasing the efficiency of the transport system 2. Speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport 3. Moving towards zero-emission vehicles • This strategy will benefit European citizens and consumers by delivering improvements in air quality, reductions in noise levels, lower congestion levels, and improved safety. Consumers will benefit from less-energy-consuming cars, better infrastructure for alternative fuels, better links between modes of transport and better safety, and fewer delays thanks to the roll-out of digital technologies.
  41. 41. Alternative Dispute Resolution •Online Dispute Resolution • The European Union recently recognized the need to promote the use of ODR to enhance options for redress in cross-border trade, particularly in the digital market. This platform allows consumers and traders to settle disputes relating to online purchases with the assistance of an impartial dispute resolution body. The EU promotes the use of ODR with the aim of stimulating growth in internal market. The EU Regulation requires the creation of an ODR platform that will become a hub in EU for extra-judicial resolution of consumer complaints. This platform will enable consumers to submit complaints in their own language while nationally approved ADR entities will be able to deliver their services through the platform using online case management. The goal of the EU's legislation is the stimulation of trade and in order to achieve this goal they are issuing regulatory tools which will install great confidence in E -Commerce. These tools in turn aim to promote the use of ODR by intervening in the self regulatory ODR market.
  42. 42. EuropeanConsumerCentresNetwork –ECCNet • The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC NET) is a network of independently run offices that are co-funded by the European Commission. They function to help and advice consumers in the EU, Iceland and Norway. These centres can help consumers know their rights, help them settle disputes with a seller in cross-border disputes and help them know who to contact and where to find help in case of disputes. Furthermore, the ECC Net also plays an important role in advising policy makers and stakeholders in addition to updating the authorities about traders contravening consumer law. • In 2021 alone, it is estimated that the ECC Net assisted over 126,000 consumers. Additionally, the ECC Net helped in over 20,000 cases by contacting traders in efforts to solve consumer disputes. Of these 20,000 cases, 64% were settled amicably.
  43. 43. • European Small Claims Procedure • This process can be used by consumers to make a claim for a maximum value of 5,000 Euros against a person, organization or business in cross-border disputes within the EU but in exception of Denmark. The procedure is normally used for reimbursement for goods or services. Of importance to note is that lawyers are not needed for a claim to be submitted. • In order to make a claim, a form is filled (Form A) with attachments of other evidentiary documents supporting your claim. Once that is completed, the form and any other supporting documents are sent to court either in your country of domicile, the seller/ trader’s country or any other EU country concerned.
  44. 44. • Once the information is received by the court, the Form A and any other supporting documents are checked to see if your claim is within the scope of the Procedure. If the case is found admissible under the Small Claims Procedure, the court will contact the defendant and give them 30 days to respond. • After receiving an answer the court will within 30 days either: 1. Make a judgement on your claim 2. Ask for more details either from you or the defendant 3. Ask you to attend hearing 4. Normally as to costs incurred during the Procedure, either in court fees or translation fees, the winner of the claim gets reimbursed.
  45. 45. • Enforcement of Court Decisions • Once a decision has been made by a court, it becomes automatically recognised in other EU countries. The implication of this is that if the defendant fails to comply with a court decision, you can contact authorities in their country of domicile. The only requirement is that you produce the original copy of judgement and the certificate of judgement (Form D). • The authorities will then enforce the judgement following their national rules.
  46. 46. • European Payment Order (Order for Payment Procedure) • This procedure is normally used in uncontested civil and commercial claims (i.e. where a claim has already been settled by a court and agreed to by the debtor). It can be used by a consumer to recover monetary claims in other EU countries except for Denmark. Also it is important to note that this procedure does not need you to go to court as it is completely written. • The first step to take in the procedure is to fill out a form (Form A) with details of the parties involved and the nature and amount of your claim. Once this is done, the form is sent to a competent court. • The court will review the claim and if it is found to be admissible under the European Payment Order Procedure, it will issue a European Payment Order within 30 days. This is however different in Hungary where the European Payment Order is issued by notaries as opposed to courts like in other EU countries.
  47. 47. • Enforcement of European Payment Order • Once a debtor receives the European Payment Order, they have 30 days to accept or contest the claim. If the debtor decides to contest the claim, then the dispute will be transferred to ordinary civil courts and dealt with under national law. If the Order is not contested, then it automatically becomes enforceable. • Just as the Small Claims court decision, to get this order enforced, you need to send a copy of the European Payment Order to the enforcement authorities in the relevant EU country.