European Commissioner for Health and Consumers
Thank you for your interest in the 2010 European Consumer Summit. This year's summit will focus on services for consumers and in particular on access, fairness and choice. The aim is to examine this increasingly diverse and complex area from different angles, by bringing together consumers, consumer advocates, business, and policy makers. Beyond that, we hope that these different voices will help us to produce real, actionable outcomes for our future policy reflection.
The aim of consumer policy is to enhance people's welfare and to protect them from risks and threats. More recently, it has sought not only to protect but also to empower consumers to exercise their rights by giving them accurate information. Today European consumer policy in a globalised economy is about building a truly single European market which works for people – with better access, more choice, higher quality, transparent product and price comparisons and greater ease in switching providers.
We know from our work on the Consumer Markets Scoreboard and from consumer complaints that there is work to be done to make that vision a reality. Above all, we know that we need to secure consumers' confidence that the single market can deliver on its promise.
We will only be able to inspire that confidence by demonstrating that we are working to close the gaps which we have identified in the single market, that are still denying consumers greater choice and better prices. And we need to demonstrate to consumers that we are tough on enforcing existing consumer laws, so that the EU-wide rights we are encouraging them to assert exist in practice and not only on paper.
Today's consumers are increasingly called upon to make quick choices, often in a situation of information overload and in an increasingly complex, fast-paced environment. If we really mean to empower consumers, enabling them to make informed decisions and to exercise their rights, simply adding more information is not the answer. What we need is to give them simple, recognizable and trusted guidance, and prompt and effective means of redress if things go wrong.
This year’s European Consumer Summit will bring together different perspectives on all of these issues. We will focus on services that have the most direct relevance for consumers and where we know the biggest challenges remain, such as transport, energy and banking. Consequently, our menu includes the transparency of bank services, the future of online services for consumers, sustainable urban transport and green energy.
The outcome of our discussions, workshops and panels will feed directly into our reflections on a future strategy for consumer services. Furthermore, the outcome will deliver arguments for the consumer case in other policy areas. This is important so that the consumer perspective on services is always considered whenever blueprints for other EU policies are debated.