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NEW ! Stakeholders' conference

The Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General will hold a full-day stakeholder conference on the review of the consumer acquis on November 14, 2007. The conference will take place at the Albert Borschette conference centre in Brussels. It will form part of the stakeholder dialogue on the consumer acquis initiated by the Green Paper. The conference will primarily aim at collecting stakeholders' practical experiences and views on the state of play in respect of EU consumer protection legislation, with a view to identifying regulatory problems, and improving the functioning of the EU retail market. Commissioner Kuneva will address the conference.

Interested parties are invited to express their interest in participating at the stakeholder conference by noon on 23 October 2007, by sending an email to sanco-b2@ec.europa.eu. Individuals and organisations interested in obtaining funding to cover travel expenses are invited to make such a request when expressing their interest in participating in the workshop. Funding will be in the form of ticket provision for transportation to the conference venue.

As the number of places is limited, a selection of participants will be made in the interests of obtaining a representative selection of stakeholders. The full list of participants will be published on 30 October 2007.

Conference Agenda pdf (updated 19-10-2007)

NEW ! The outcome of the public consultation

Following the Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis (COM(2006) 744 Final, the Commission has received more than 300 responses from consumer and business associations, Member States, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and groups of stakeholders. After analysing all the responses, the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General has issued a staff working document pdf which summaries the outcome of the consultation.

The staff working document will be complemented by a detailed analysis of the responses to the Green Paper prepared by GHK Consulting for the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General. (forthcoming)

All responses submitted following the Green Paper are available here

Disclaimer: These responses and the analytical summary prepared by the external contractor have not been adopted or in any way approved by the Commission and should not be relied upon as a statement of the Commission's or Health & Consumer Protection DG's views. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in these responses and the analytical summary, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.

Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis

On 8 February 2007, the European Commission adopted the Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis BG CS DA DE ET EL ES FR HU IT LV LT MT NL PL PT RO SK SL FI SV pdf. This Green Paper concludes the diagnostic phase of the review, sums up the Commission’s initial findings and initiates a public consultation. It identifies a number of problems with the current legislation in the area of consumer protection and presents main options for a reform as well as a number of specific questions.

With this Green Paper, the Commission called on all interested parties to express their views on the issues identified in the context of the Review of Consumer Acquis. The consultation period lasted till 15 May 2007.

Currently, the Commission is analysing the contributions and will publish a summary in the 4th quarter of 2007. On the basis of the outcome of the consultation, the Commission will decide whether there is a need for a legislative initiative.

EC Consumer Law Compendium

In order to develop a knowledge base for the Review, the Commission, among other initiatives and activities, contracted for a comparative analysis on how the eight directives subject to the Review are applied in the Member States, including case-law and administrative practice. As a result of an open tender this task was assigned to the University of Bielefeld under the lead of Prof. Dr. Hans Schulte-Nölke. In accordance with the service contract the researchers developed:

  • A Comparative Analysis DE FR pdf of the different national regulations, including possible barriers to trade or distortions of competition resulting from them. The Analysis is currently available in English only.

  • An EU Consumer Law Acquis Database, which links the directives under the Review, relevant ECJ jurisprudence, national transposition measures as well as national case-law. Attention: The link will redirect you to an external website of the contractor.

Disclaimer

"The EC Consumer Law Compendium was produced by the University of Bielefeld (Germany) for DG Health & Consumer Protection and represents the views of the contractor or authors. These views have not been adopted or in any way endorsed by the Commission and should not be relied upon as a statement of the views of the Commission. In particular, the views expressed by the authors on the adequacy of national transpositions measures are without prejudice to the opinions of the Commission. The Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this Compendium, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof."

The Commission is reviewing the following Directives:

Sale of consumer goods and guarantees (99/44/EC) Timeshare (94/47/EC)
Price indication (98/6/EC) Unfair contract terms (93/13/EC)
Injunctions (98/27/EC) Package travel (90/314/EC)
Distance selling (97/7/EC) Doorstep selling (85/577/EC)


All these Directives are based on minimum harmonisation. This means that Member States can go beyond the degree of protection granted to consumers in EC law by introducing or maintaining stricter national consumer rules. As a consequence, differences exist in the level of protection afforded to EU consumers and the modalities for exercising the rights granted by the Directives.

The need for the review also stems from the inconsistencies generated by the sector specific approach to the consumer regulatory framework (e.g. legislation on timeshare, package travel). The Commission fears that ensuing fragmentation may be creating internal market problems.

In addition, some of the Directives under review date back to the 1980s or early 1990s. Hence there is a need to take stock and assess how these Directives are working in practice, to check whether they are enforced properly and whether new products or marketing techniques are causing any detriment for consumers.

The review could also be described as a "consumer protection check" of the acquis with a view to examining the Directives to identify possible failings in terms of effective consumer protection, possible inconsistencies between the different Directives and their application by Member States and the internal market barriers arising from these failings. In the light of the results, the legislation may need to be revised.

The First Annual Progress Report on European Contract Law and the Acquis Review - 2005 DE FR pdf (COM (2005) 456 of 23.09.2005) summarises the progress of the European Contract Law (ECL) initiative and the review of the acquis since the 2004 Communication and outlines the review process. It also forms the basis for Council Conclusions pdf adopted on 29 November 2005, which welcome the Review exercise.

The Commission Communication on European Contract Law and the revision of the acquis : the way forward (COM(2004) 651 of 11.10.2004) outlined the need to improve the quality and consistency of existing Community legislation in relation to consumer contracts.

The review of existing Community legislation relating to consumer protection ("consumer acquis") was first foreseen in the Consumer Policy Strategy 2002-2006 pdf.

 
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