Regulation 2006/2004 on consumer protection cooperation: Implementation Appraisal

08-04-2016

The CPC Regulation and its objectives (i.e. facilitating cooperation between enforcement authorities; improving the quality and consistency of enforcement; and monitoring and enhancing the protection of consumers' economic interests) remain relevant and valid today. However, the landscape in which consumer protection authorities operate has significantly changed since the adoption of the Regulation in 2004. In particular, and despite its considerable economic and societal benefits, the advent of digitalisation poses new challenges to detect and tackle infringements of consumer protection rules in a timely, effective and efficient manner. For instance, infringements committed simultaneously in several Member States by the same trader cannot be fully addressed under the current CPC Regulation. In addition, a recent external evaluation (2012) and Commission reports (from 2009 to 2014) on the functioning of the CPC Regulation indicate that the original objectives of the Regulation have not been entirely achieved. This is in spite of some very positive developments such as the creation of the CPC Network and a tangible increase in enforcement cooperation between national authorities, as testified by joint initiatives such as the 'sweeps'. Indeed, legal and procedural barriers to effective cross-border cooperation remain in place and, as noted also by the EP, downward pressure on resources allocated to enforcement authorities at MS level hampers the correct and effective implementation of the Regulation. In view of the forthcoming review of the Regulation in 2016, options to include additional minimum investigative and enforcement powers, such as the ability to request penalty payments to recover illicitly obtained gains; an explicit power – under certain conditions – to name infringing traders; and the possibility to carry out 'mystery shopping' exercises, received wide support by stakeholders consulted. Other possible modifications to the CPC Regulation, such as the establishment of common standards to handle infringements and a potential revision of the Commission's role in the CPC Network, raise more complex questions. The various policy options outlined in the Roadmap announcing the revision of the Regulation were still being assessed by the Commission at the time of writing this briefing.

The CPC Regulation and its objectives (i.e. facilitating cooperation between enforcement authorities; improving the quality and consistency of enforcement; and monitoring and enhancing the protection of consumers' economic interests) remain relevant and valid today. However, the landscape in which consumer protection authorities operate has significantly changed since the adoption of the Regulation in 2004. In particular, and despite its considerable economic and societal benefits, the advent of digitalisation poses new challenges to detect and tackle infringements of consumer protection rules in a timely, effective and efficient manner. For instance, infringements committed simultaneously in several Member States by the same trader cannot be fully addressed under the current CPC Regulation. In addition, a recent external evaluation (2012) and Commission reports (from 2009 to 2014) on the functioning of the CPC Regulation indicate that the original objectives of the Regulation have not been entirely achieved. This is in spite of some very positive developments such as the creation of the CPC Network and a tangible increase in enforcement cooperation between national authorities, as testified by joint initiatives such as the 'sweeps'. Indeed, legal and procedural barriers to effective cross-border cooperation remain in place and, as noted also by the EP, downward pressure on resources allocated to enforcement authorities at MS level hampers the correct and effective implementation of the Regulation. In view of the forthcoming review of the Regulation in 2016, options to include additional minimum investigative and enforcement powers, such as the ability to request penalty payments to recover illicitly obtained gains; an explicit power – under certain conditions – to name infringing traders; and the possibility to carry out 'mystery shopping' exercises, received wide support by stakeholders consulted. Other possible modifications to the CPC Regulation, such as the establishment of common standards to handle infringements and a potential revision of the Commission's role in the CPC Network, raise more complex questions. The various policy options outlined in the Roadmap announcing the revision of the Regulation were still being assessed by the Commission at the time of writing this briefing.