EU consumer agenda empowers shoppers to grow our economies
Posted, May 22, 2012 @ 16:00
A new agenda for European consumers sets out an ambitious programme for boosting the confidence of shoppers, leading to increased economic activity and growth, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee, said today.
The commission has today published a paper which sets out a number of initiatives that will be taken to improve consumer protection rules, raise awareness of rights when shopping across border, step up enforcement, and give consumers clearer and stronger protection online - for example when buying digital content such as music or videos.
The new strategy was unveiled today at a press conference where Mr Harbour joined EU commission vice-president Viviane Reding and consumer protection commissioner John Dalli.
Among the proposals put forward are a revised product safety framework, an EU-wide consumer awareness campaign, strengthening and recognition of consumer organisations, and a beefed-up European Consumer Centres Network. The commission will also tackle problems associated with territorially-focused copyright management which prevents digital content from being made available across the EU.
Mr Harbour said:
"Consumer expenditure accounts for 56 percent of EU GDP. Consumers are the lifeblood of the economy. Despite this, too many consumers are still reticent about exercising their right to shop around across the whole Single Market.
"We have already taken significant action to protect consumers with measures including improved labelling, increased safety of products such as toys, and caps on the cost of mobile roaming. However, too often neither consumers nor businesses are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities under EU law. We need to strengthen the consumer advice networks already available so that consumers know who to call if they have a dispute, and we should make it easier for disputes to be resolved.
"The rules governing consumers are largely stuck in a pre-digital age. For example, online digital content such as movies and music is still covered by national rights. Making them subject to an EU regime could open up a whole new raft of opportunities for businesses, and provide cheaper content for consumers.
"Shoppers should feel as secure buying a product or service from the other side of the Continent as they do from their local High Street. This package goes a long way to giving consumers the protection, information and empowerment that they need."