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  • Timeline
  • Political background
  • Two stage approach to market monitoring
  • More Facts and Figures
  • Related work
  • Timeline

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    Political background

    The Scoreboard initiative is in line with the Single Market Review which addresses the need to be more responsive to the expectations of citizens and pay greater attention to outcomes of policies, and with the EU Consumer Policy Strategy 2007-2013 which strives to empower EU consumers and to put consumer welfare at the heart of well-functioning markets.

    In its conclusions on the Single Market Review of 13/14 March 2008, the Council "welcomed the Commission’s intention to develop with the Member States a Consumer Markets Scoreboard and new consumer price data". On 18 November 2008, the European Parliament adopted a report endorsing the methodology and indicators and calling for additional evidence on consumer empowerment. It also underlined the importance of close cooperation with Member States and communication.

    A public consultation on the development of the Scoreboard and the broader monitoring initiative ran in October and November 2007 on the basis of a questionnaire. Responses from national authorities, European Consumer Centres, non-governmental organisations, industry and individuals show support for the creation of the Scoreboard and the use of indicators to monitor whether markets are delivering for consumers.

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    Two stage approach to market monitoring

    The monitoring initiative is based on a two stage approach. In the first stage the Consumer Markets Scoreboard performs a screening of consumers markets, while in the second stage the markets which are suspected of malfunctioning are analysed in greater detail.

    The Scoreboard looks at five top-level indicators – complaints, prices pdf, satisfaction, switching and safety – to identify malfunctioning consumer markets that need further analysis. In sectors identified as not working for consumers, in-depth market specific analyses will be carried out addressing the reasons behind failure and suggesting appropriate policy measures. The Scoreboard will also track progress in retail market integration and benchmark the national consumer markets and policies.

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    I. Consumer Markets Scoreboard (CMS)



    5th Consumer Scoreboard – March 2011

    The spring Scoreboard analyses consumer conditions in EU Member States and the development of cross-border trade and e-commerce.

    Findings:

    • Consumer conditions recovered in nearly all EU countries after the 2009 decline;
    • Growing gap between domestic and cross-border e-commerce, despite the potential for better choice and savings;
    • Consumers are more confident to shop cross-border once they try it;
    • Obstacles relate to the supply side as fewer retailers sell across national borders compared to 2009.

    Relevant documents:



    4th edition of the CMS: "Making Markets Work for Consumers"

    The Consumer Markets Scoreboard reveals which markets meet consumer expectations

    The autumn 2010 Scoreboard reveals that "investments, pensions and securities", "real estate services" and "internet service provision" are the three markets most likely to be failing consumers across the EU. Among goods markets, "second-hand cars", "clothing and footwear" and meat have scored lowest. At the other end of the spectrum, airlines show good results in spite of the disruptions of spring 2010 and consumers also appreciate cultural goods and services. The Scoreboard ranks consumer markets by looking at indicators such as comparability, consumer trust, consumer satisfaction, problems, complaints, the ease of switching providers, prices, etc. The purpose is to identify the markets that appear most at risk of malfunctioning and to carry out in-depth studies in order to analyse problems and identify solutions. For the first time, the Scoreboard ranks as many as 50 different markets – from food to domestic appliances to car repair – in all EU countries. In the light of the findings, the Commission is launching follow-up studies for the markets of internet service provision and meat.



    3rd edition of the CMS: "Consumers at Home in the Internal Market"

    Starting with 2010, the Consumer Markets Scoreboard is published twice a year. The spring edition is focused on tracking the integration of the retail Internal Market and on benchmarking national consumer environments. The autumn edition performs a screening of consumer markets (approximately fifty) to identify which one is not delivering the outcomes expected by European consumers. The results of the autumn edition will be the basis for the launch of an in-depth analysis to understand the problems which affect a specific consumer market and to propose solutions.

    The third edition of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard shows that:

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    2nd edition of the CMS

    The Consumer Markets Scoreboard is a tool to identify where the internal market is not functioning well for consumers, and where intervention may be needed. The second edition of the Scoreboard finds that consumers are less satisfied and experience more problems with services than with goods markets. It also finds that consumers empowered by switching help to improve the outcomes for all consumers since consumers are less likely to report price increases in markets with higher switching rates.

    As follow-up, the Commission will collaborate with national stakeholders to gather more quality data to develop a solid consumer evidence base. In particular, it will encourage regular collection of average prices of comparable products and develop a harmonised methodology to classify consumer complaints.

    NEW ! The Chair of IMCO, Malcolm Harbour commends the Scoreboard to IMCO members, 16 November 2009.


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    1st edition of the CMS

    In 2008, the Commission proposed to establish an annual Consumer Markets Scoreboard' pdf to monitor the performance of markets in terms of economic and social outcomes for consumers.

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    II. In-depth market monitoring



    E-commerce study

    The E-commerce report is the in-depth market analysis that was launched after the publication of the first edition of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard.

    The first edition of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard identified the need for further analysis of cross-border e-commerce. The report on cross-border e-commerce is published as a follow-up to the first edition of the Scoreboard. The evidence set out in the report is also a contribution to the in-depth market monitoring of the retail sector conducted in the context of the Single Market Review.

    On 22 October 2009, the Commission adopted a Communication on cross-border e-commerce in the EU that sets out the foundation for a strategy for making cross-border e-commerce work better:

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    Retail financial services study

    The Retail Financial Services report is the in-depth market analysis which was prompted by the market screening process performed in the first Consumer Markets Scoreboard.

    This document is available here.
    The press release is available here .
    The memo is available here.
    The speech is available here pdf.

    A survey on the prices of current accounts has been carried out in the context of this analysis. The objective of this survey was to produce statistically reliable data on the prices and tariffs for using the services linked to a current bank account in the EU Member States. The data collected on prices needed to be public information, i.e. information available on web sites or leaflets from financial institutions, or from their customer service.

    Disclaimer: This report has been produced by outside contractors for DG Health and Consumers and represent their views on the matter. These views 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 the Health and Consumer Protection DG's views. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in these surveys and studies, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.

    This data-gathering process is based on to the initiative of monitoring consumer outcomes in the single market as established in the EU Consumer Policy Strategy 2007 – 2013 which strives to empower EU consumers and to place their welfare at the heart of well functioning markets.

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    The retail electricity study

    The study on the functioning of retail electricity markets for consumers in the European Union was carried out as a follow-up to the second Consumer Markets Scoreboard. It assesses the consumer situation in the retail electricity markets. Specifically, it addresses whether consumers can benefit from a well-functioning market in terms of choice, price and quality and whether consumers are able to make informed, rational and empowered choices or, in other words, how easy or difficult it is for them to participate in the market and exercise choice. This includes issues such as awareness and information, choice, prices, transparency and comparability of offers, switching, billing, problems, complaints and dispute resolution mechanisms.

    Press release: "EU consumers could save €13 billion in electricity bills, study finds"

    Staff working paper: "The functioning of the retail electricity markets for consumers in the European Union"pdf

    Staff working paper: "An energy policy for consumers"pdf

    Full study: "The functioning of the retail electricity markets for consumers in the European Union"pdf

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    More Facts and Figures

    Reliable and up-to-date information (quantitative and qualitative) is essential for better policy making and has long been. It is a cornerstone of Consumer Policy Strategy. The continuous development of data-gathering is also an important part of the Consumer Policy Strategy and Programme 2007-2013.

    Convincing policymakers and stakeholders of consumer concerns and demands depends on a clear and defined ‘problem statement’ and a fair and balanced assessment of all the impacts but notably on consumers, competitiveness, the EU market and business costs. Better and effective integration of consumer interests relies especially on objective and comprehensive data about consumer interests in a particular sector or policy area.

    Indicators are increasingly useful in justifying policies and in justifying the Commission’s budget and human resources. The Commission needs to monitor and evaluate national consumer policies. This is a Treaty obligation, under Article 153 which requires the Commission to take measures which "support, supplement and monitor" the policies pursued by the Member States. Information is needed in order to develop benchmarks for national consumer policies.

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    Related work

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