The enforcement cooperation framework
Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004on consumer protection cooperation (the CPC Regulation) lays down the general conditions and a framework for cooperation between national enforcement authorities.
It covers situations when the collective interests of consumers are at stake and allows authorities to stop breaches of consumer rules when the trader and the consumer are established in different countries.
Individuals who encountered problems in cross-border shopping can turn to the European Consumer Centres network.
The CPC Regulation links national Competent Authorities from all countries in the European Economic Area to form a European enforcement network, the "CPC Network". In each country a Single Liaison Office ensures the coordination of national authorities.
The cooperation is applicable to consumer rules covering various areas , such as unfair commercial practices, e-commerce, comparative advertising, package holidays, timeshares, distance selling, and passenger rights.
Concerted enforcement projects
Authorities in the CPC Network have similar investigation and enforcement powers.
Every year, the Network identifies common enforcement priorities and carries out concerted enforcement activities, for example the "sweeps".
In a sweep, authorities simultaneously check, on the basis of a common check-list, whether a chosen on-line sector complies with consumer rules and, where not, act upon breaches detected.
Authorities have started joint projects to coordinate their legal approach on consumer rules and adopt a common position towards a specific sector.
In its first joint project, national enforcement authorities across the EU coordinated their legal approach on consumer rules and adopted a common position towards online games .
The four most important consumer issues raised by this action are:
- Games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;
- Games should not directly encourage children to buy items or to persuade an adult to buy items for them;
- Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements and purchases should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent;
- Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.
The Commission and national enforcement authorities addressed these issues during meetings on 27 and 28 February 2014.
The coordinated enforcement action in-app purchases in online and mobile games has made real progress in delivering tangible results. Industry has made a number of engagements which seek to address consumer concerns. The action will increase consumer confidence in the fast-growing "app" sector.
Review of the cooperation framework
The CPC cooperation framework and its scope are under review since 2011. One central question of this exercise is to assess whether the current cooperation mechanisms are fit to respond to the new enforcement challenges posed by the rapid changes of consumer markets (e.g. e- and mobile shopping), the growing presence of operators acting on the whole EU-market and the downward pressure on resources available to enforcers. The Commission should report on the outcome of this in-depth assessment by early 2015.
Key steps of the review process:
Commission Report on the functioning of the CPC cooperation, July 2014
- Summary of stakeholder responses to the public consultation reviewing the CPC Regulation
- Roadmap on the review of the CPC Regulation, September 2013
- Discussion paper on enforcement for the Consumer Summit, March 2013
- External evaluation of the CPC Regulation, December 2012