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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Protecting European consumers

28-06-2019

Consumer protection rules have been improving the rights of consumers in the European Union since the 1970s. While the level of protection is today considered to be among the highest in the world, consumers in the EU are still faced with a number of issues. According to the latest available data, in 2016 one in five consumers said that they had had a reason to complain in the last 12 months, a level which has remained largely unchanged since 2008. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of ...

Consumer protection rules have been improving the rights of consumers in the European Union since the 1970s. While the level of protection is today considered to be among the highest in the world, consumers in the EU are still faced with a number of issues. According to the latest available data, in 2016 one in five consumers said that they had had a reason to complain in the last 12 months, a level which has remained largely unchanged since 2008. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including stronger cross-border cooperation between national authorities in charge of consumer protection and market surveillance. Notably, the Commission proposed a 'new deal for consumers' in April 2018, to enable representative legal actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers and to modernise EU consumer protection rules. Sector-specific efforts included: eliminating roaming charges across the EU in 2017; legislation aimed at facilitating consumer participation in the digital single market; reforms on the rules on privacy and data protection; enhancing the rights of energy consumers and passengers; and efforts to address the 'dual quality' of branded food products. The EU budget for consumer protection is relatively small, because although rules in this field are made at the EU level, their implementation and enforcement are carried out by the Member States. The consumer programme has a budget of €188 million for the 2013-2020 period, or roughly €0.05 per citizen per year. This may change in the new multiannual financial framework, as consumer protection becomes part of a wider single market programme, which is expected to create synergies between its various components. Future policies could focus on longer product lifetime, labelling and quality requirements for non-agricultural and industrial products, fairer food labelling and retail financial services. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Low-cost air carriers and tourism

20-06-2017

The liberalisation of air transport, which resulted in the creation of new routes and new business models for airlines, in particular the development of low-cost carriers, has led to lower fares and wider access to air transport. In many countries, air transport is a catalyst for tourism development. As low-cost carriers in the EU have experienced substantial growth, serving mostly short-haul destinations, they are increasingly looking into investing into the long-haul market for their future development ...

The liberalisation of air transport, which resulted in the creation of new routes and new business models for airlines, in particular the development of low-cost carriers, has led to lower fares and wider access to air transport. In many countries, air transport is a catalyst for tourism development. As low-cost carriers in the EU have experienced substantial growth, serving mostly short-haul destinations, they are increasingly looking into investing into the long-haul market for their future development.

Resource efficiency: Reducing food waste, improving food safety

10-05-2017

As part of its action plan on the circular economy, the EU is aiming to give substance to a more efficient use of resources by reducing food waste and increasing food security. The European Parliament is due to vote in May 2017 on an own-initiative report proposing measures to cut the 88 million tonnes of edible food wasted annually in the EU by half by 2030.

As part of its action plan on the circular economy, the EU is aiming to give substance to a more efficient use of resources by reducing food waste and increasing food security. The European Parliament is due to vote in May 2017 on an own-initiative report proposing measures to cut the 88 million tonnes of edible food wasted annually in the EU by half by 2030.

How an EU Lifespan Guarantee Model Could Be Implemented Across the European Union

31-01-2017

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee. It looks at the interrelation between the Consumer Sales and Guarantee Directive (CSD) and the Ecodesign Directive (EDD) with respect to guarantees and product expected lifetime. Through legal research and stakeholder surveys, it develops an EU lifespan guarantee model, which could be implemented by amendments to the proposal for an Online ...

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee. It looks at the interrelation between the Consumer Sales and Guarantee Directive (CSD) and the Ecodesign Directive (EDD) with respect to guarantees and product expected lifetime. Through legal research and stakeholder surveys, it develops an EU lifespan guarantee model, which could be implemented by amendments to the proposal for an Online Sales Directive (OSD) and the EDD. It recommends extending the EDD to include the lifespan and extending the limitation period of the OSD. A commercial guarantee for the lifespan of a product is also suggested.

Vanjski autor

Dr. Klaus TONNER; Prof. Rosalind MALCOLM

Insects – soon to be a regulated food?

17-06-2016

There is increasing interest in the EU – as in other parts of the world – about how to make use of insect protein in animal feed and human food. While most EU Member States have forbidden the use of insects as human food, others have adopted a more flexible approach, allowing some products on their markets. Until now, EU legislation on insects for human food had had an uncertain stance, but the revised Regulation on novel foods will change this.

There is increasing interest in the EU – as in other parts of the world – about how to make use of insect protein in animal feed and human food. While most EU Member States have forbidden the use of insects as human food, others have adopted a more flexible approach, allowing some products on their markets. Until now, EU legislation on insects for human food had had an uncertain stance, but the revised Regulation on novel foods will change this.

EYE 2016 – 360° strategy: Moving things around in a circle

28-04-2016

Unlike a traditional linear economy based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, a circular economy is based on sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling in an almost closed loop. Moving towards a circular economy could deliver benefits but also poses challenges. In 2015, the European Commission presented a circular economy package seeking to enable a transition to this new model, in particular by updating EU waste policy. This note has been prepared for the European ...

Unlike a traditional linear economy based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, a circular economy is based on sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling in an almost closed loop. Moving towards a circular economy could deliver benefits but also poses challenges. In 2015, the European Commission presented a circular economy package seeking to enable a transition to this new model, in particular by updating EU waste policy. This note has been prepared for the European Youth Event, taking place in Strasbourg in May 2016. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format

Implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU): Energy Efficiency Obligation Schemes -European Implementation Assessment

19-04-2016

In its 'Energy 2020 strategy' in 2010, the European Commission stated 'Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions, improve energy security and competitiveness, make energy consumption more affordable for consumers as well as create employment, including in export industries'. A year later, the Commission presented a proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency, which entered into forced on 4 December 2012. A further three years later, the European Implementation Assessment ...

In its 'Energy 2020 strategy' in 2010, the European Commission stated 'Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions, improve energy security and competitiveness, make energy consumption more affordable for consumers as well as create employment, including in export industries'. A year later, the Commission presented a proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency, which entered into forced on 4 December 2012. A further three years later, the European Implementation Assessment was launched to accompany the ITRE Committee in its scrutiny of the implementation of the directive. Input was received from three independent groups of experts representing: CPMC SPRL, the University of Oxford and the University of Sussex, and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei. The first research paper presents opinions of national stakeholders' at Member States' level, gathered during interviews and surveys. The second research paper presents the Member States' plans and achievements towards the implementation of obligation schemes under Article 7 of the Directive (Energy Efficiency Obligation Schemes, EEOS). The third research paper presents the implementation of Article 7 of the Directive in the household and building sectors specifically. The introduction to this European Implementation Assessment presents the overall legal and political context of energy policy in the EU, as well as of the Energy Efficiency Directive and its implementation in particular. Key findings present main elements of the analysis provided by the external experts in the three research papers, which are included in full as annexes.

Bridging the digital divide in the EU

10-12-2015

Digital technologies play an important role in the everyday life of most Europeans; the internet allows people, businesses and governments to transform the ways they communicate and engage with one another. Yet some parts of the population are still excluded from using these new methods. Improving the EU fast broadband internet infrastructure is as important as upgrading the digital skills of citizens: 10% increase in broadband penetration may raise gross domestic product (GDP) by 1-1.5%, and by ...

Digital technologies play an important role in the everyday life of most Europeans; the internet allows people, businesses and governments to transform the ways they communicate and engage with one another. Yet some parts of the population are still excluded from using these new methods. Improving the EU fast broadband internet infrastructure is as important as upgrading the digital skills of citizens: 10% increase in broadband penetration may raise gross domestic product (GDP) by 1-1.5%, and by 2020, 90% of jobs will require some digital skills. The digital divide has been substantially reduced over the last decade in Europe, but the gap remains far from closed: according to the 2015 European Commission's Digital Agenda Scoreboard, two related targets have already been met (all EU households can access basic broadband and 75% of all Europeans are regular internet users). However, there is a danger that targets related to fast and ultra-fast speed broadband will be missed, especially in rural areas. Furthermore, important challenges on internet use remain, as about half of the less-educated and the elderly in the population do not use it regularly, and about 58 million EU citizens (aged 16-74 years old) have never used it at all. The digital divide also varies across Member States. The European Commission is working to improve the situation under the Digital Agenda for Europe and the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy. Among the main EU support actions in place are proposals for legislation, different broadband funding mechanisms and support for multi-stakeholder partnerships and research projects to improve digital inclusion and assistive technologies.

Online consumer reviews: The case of misleading or fake reviews

27-10-2015

Online consumer review sites and platforms are tools that are widely used by consumers and are becoming embedded in both consumer behaviour and business models. A 2013 European Consumer Centres' Network web survey showed that 82% of respondents read consumer reviews before shopping. Tools for increasing consumer awareness and raising their trust in the market should not, however, mislead consumers with fake reviews, which, according to different estimates, represent between 1% and 16% of all 'consumer ...

Online consumer review sites and platforms are tools that are widely used by consumers and are becoming embedded in both consumer behaviour and business models. A 2013 European Consumer Centres' Network web survey showed that 82% of respondents read consumer reviews before shopping. Tools for increasing consumer awareness and raising their trust in the market should not, however, mislead consumers with fake reviews, which, according to different estimates, represent between 1% and 16% of all 'consumer' reviews. Directive 2005/29/EC, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market defines misleading or aggressive commercial practices and prohibits, in particular, the practice of falsely representing oneself as a consumer. Misleading or fake reviews undermine consumers' confidence in the integrity of online reviews and lead to consumer detriment. A fake review can be defined as a positive, neutral or negative review that is not an actual consumer's honest and impartial opinion or that does not reflect a consumer's genuine experience of a product, service or business. Some European consumer organisations say review sites would benefit from being regulated, or to some extent standardised. The problem of fake online reviews not only concerns individual consumers; it can lead to an erosion of consumer confidence in the online market, which can reduce competition. To deal with this issue, some guidelines have already been adopted by consumer enforcement bodies, regulators and other stakeholders, in the EU and internationally. Enforcement actions have also been taken. Fake online reviews should be taken seriously, as more and more consumers buy online, and the practice is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

The sharing economy and tourism: Tourist accommodation

25-09-2015

Tourism services have traditionally been provided by businesses such as hotels, taxis or tour operators. Recently, a growing number of individuals are proposing to share temporarily with tourists what they own (for example their house or car) or what they do (for example meals or excursions). This type of sharing is referred to as the 'sharing economy'. It is not limited to tourism and can be found in many areas of social and economic activity, although tourism has been one of the sectors most impacted ...

Tourism services have traditionally been provided by businesses such as hotels, taxis or tour operators. Recently, a growing number of individuals are proposing to share temporarily with tourists what they own (for example their house or car) or what they do (for example meals or excursions). This type of sharing is referred to as the 'sharing economy'. It is not limited to tourism and can be found in many areas of social and economic activity, although tourism has been one of the sectors most impacted. Sharing goods and services between individuals is nothing new in itself. However, the development of the internet and, as a consequence, the creation of online platforms has made sharing easier than ever. In the past decade, many companies managing such platforms have emerged on the market. A well-known example of a platform is one on which people can book accommodation (Airbnb). The sharing economy has had a positive impact on tourism as well as a negative one. Its advocates think that it provides easy access to a wide range of services that are often of higher quality and more affordable than those provided by traditional business counterparts. Critics, on the other hand, claim that the sharing economy provides unfair competition, reduces job security, avoids taxes and poses a threat to safety, health and disability compliance standards. The response to the sharing economy remains fragmented in the EU. Some activities have been regulated at local level. Neither the European Commission nor the Parliament have taken an official position so far, though a recent report from the Transport and Tourism Committee touches upon the issue. The Commission has announced that it plans to assess the role of platforms in order to see if any changes or new legislation is needed.

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