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  Safeguarding Consumers' Interestsslide

The central role of consumer protection within the EU is set out in Article 153 of the Treaty. The interests of consumers at EU level require that all markets across the European Member States (collectively the "internal market") work effectively. For the market to work effectively it should be  competitive and deliver a fair deal for consumers. A competitive and efficiently regulated market provides the greatest opportunity for business and delivers the choice, low prices, innovation and better service that consumers desire.

The completion of the internal market, the creation "of an area in which goods, persons, services and capital can move freely", has inevitably changed the setting in which European consumers' various transactions are carried out.

Consumers' activities are no longer confined to their own country; on the contrary, consumption is very often characterised by a transnational element, due quite simply to the increase in consumers' travel and to the emergence of new techniques of selling and provision of services, such as electronic trading, the Internet, etc.

Consumers can:

  • Purchase goods and services in another EU country when travelling.
  • Purchase goods and services from a seller established in another Member State travelling in the consumer's country.
  • Order and purchase goods in another EU country by various distance-selling methods, notably electronically.
  • Transfer money to another country in order to pay for transactions or make investments.

In view of the European dimension of consumer issues, legislation has been adopted at European level in order to provide consumers with a set of rights which they enjoy in all the Member States.

The establishment of these rights at Community level enables consumers to derive more benefit from the internal market. This does not mean that Community policies have taken over national rules; they merely complement one another as the markets continue to acquire an increasingly European dimension.

The Member States, which are primarily responsible for consumer protection, have also adopted on their own initiative a multiplicity of laws aimed at vesting specific rights in consumers and providing them with a higher level of protection.



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